Seismic singularities at upper-mantle phase transitions: a site percolation model

TitleSeismic singularities at upper-mantle phase transitions: a site percolation model
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsFelix J. Herrmann, Y. Bernabé
JournalGeophysical Journal International
KeywordsModelling, percolation, SLIM

Mineralogical phase transitions are usually invoked to account for the sharpness of globally observed upper-mantle seismic discontinuities. We propose a percolation-based model for the elastic properties of the phase mixture in the coexistence regions associated with these transitions. The major consequence of the model is that the elastic moduli (but not the density) display a singularity at the percolation threshold of the high-pressure phase. This model not only explains the sharp but continuous change in seismic velocities across the phase transition, but also predicts its abruptness and scale invariance, which are characterized by a non-integral scale exponent. Using the receiver-function approach and new, powerful signal-processing techniques, we quantitatively determine the singularity exponent from recordings of converted seismic waves at two Australian stations (CAN and WRAB). Using the estimated values, we construct velocity–depth profiles across the singularities and verify that the calculated converted waveforms match the observations under CAN. Finally, we point out a series of additional predictions that may provide new insights into the physics and fine structure of the upper-mantle transition zone.

Citation Keyherrmann2004GJIssa