Localized double-array stacking analysis of PcP: D″ and ULVZ structure beneath the Cocos plate, Mexico, central Pacific, and north Pacific

Alexander R. Hutko, Thorne Lay, Justin Revenaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A large, high quality P-wave data set comprising short-period and broadband signals sampling four separate regions in the lowermost mantle beneath the Cocos plate, Mexico, the central Pacific, and the north Pacific is analyzed using regional one-dimensional double-array stacking and modelling with reflectivity synthetics. A data-screening criterion retains only events with stable PcP energy in the final data stacks used for modelling and interpretation. This significantly improves the signal stacks relative to including unscreened observations, allows confident alignment on the PcP arrival and allows tight bounds to be placed on P-wave velocity structure above the core-mantle boundary (CMB). The PcP reflections under the Cocos plate are well modelled without any ultra-low velocity zone from 5 to 20°N. At latitudes from 15 to 20°N, we find evidence for two P-wave velocity discontinuities in the D″ region. The first is ∼182 km above the CMB with a δln Vp of +1.5%, near the same depth as a weaker discontinuity (<+0.5%) observed from 5 to 15°N in prior work. The other reflector is ∼454 km above the CMB, with a δln Vp of +0.4%; this appears to be a shallower continuation of the joint P- and S-wave discontinuity previously detected south of 15° N, which is presumed to be the perovskite to post-perovskite phase transition. The data stacks for paths bottoming below Mexico have PcP images that are well matched with the simple IASP91 structure, contradicting previous inferences of ULVZ presence in this region. These particular data are not very sensitive to any D″ discontinuities, and simply bound them to be <∼2%, if present. Data sampling the lowermost mantle beneath the central Pacific confirm the presence of a ∼15-km thick ultra-low velocity zone (ULVZ) just above the CMB, with δln Vp and δln Vs of around -3 to -4% and -4 to -8%, respectively. The ULVZ models predict previous S-wave data stacks well. The data for this region indicate laterally varying Vp discontinuities in D″, with one subregion having a δln Vp of 0.5% 140 km above the CMB. Beneath the north Pacific, the PcP arrivals are compatible with only weak ULVZ (δln Vp ∼ 0 to -3%), and there is a weak D″ reflector with δln Vp = 0.5%, near 314 km above the CMB. These results indicate localized occurrence of detectable ULVZ structures rather than ubiquitous ULVZ structure and emphasize the distinctiveness between the large low shear velocity province under the central Pacific and circum-Pacific regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-74
Number of pages15
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data were retrieved from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Data Management System and the Southern California Earthquake Center. We thank Harley Benz, Paul Earle, Edward Garnero, John Hernlund, and Quentin Williams for discussions and comments on the manuscript. An anonymous reviewer and Satoru Tanaka provided helpful reviews of the manuscript. This work was supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grants EAR-0453884, and EAR-0635570.


  • CMB
  • D″
  • D″ Discontinuity
  • PcP
  • ULVZ


Dive into the research topics of 'Localized double-array stacking analysis of PcP: D″ and ULVZ structure beneath the Cocos plate, Mexico, central Pacific, and north Pacific'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this