Summit Early Science Video Series: Imaging the Earth's Interior | Summary and Q&A

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November 9, 2018
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NVIDIA
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Summit Early Science Video Series: Imaging the Earth's Interior

TL;DR

Researchers use earthquake data to create 3D images of the Earth's mantle, improving models and discovering new insights.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How do researchers use data from earthquakes to image the Earth's interior?

Researchers capture seismic wave data recorded by seismographic instruments after an earthquake, and this data is used to simulate wave propagation through numerical models of the Earth's interior. By comparing the observed and simulated data, they can constrain the Earth's interior and create 3D images.

Q: What factors affect seismic wave speeds in the Earth's interior?

Seismic wave speeds are influenced by changes in material properties, such as mineralogy and temperature. If the rock is warmed, its wave speeds decrease, resulting in subtle changes in wave arrival times on the surface. These variations help researchers understand the Earth's interior structure.

Q: How do anomalies in tomographic images relate to the Earth's tectonic plates?

In tomographic images, tectonic plates appear as relatively cold, faster anomalies. These images reveal the movement and subduction of tectonic plates in the mantle. Additionally, warm material upwellings from the core-mantle boundary manifest as slower wave speeds, indicating super plumes.

Q: How do powerful GPUs and AI tools contribute to seismic tomography?

Powerful GPUs, like Nvidia Volta GPUs, with increased memory capacity allow researchers to perform large-scale computational simulations more efficiently. AI tools can aid in identifying suitable measurements from millions of seismograms, improving data assimilation. These advancements enhance the accuracy and performance of seismic tomography methods.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Researchers use earthquake data to simulate seismic wave propagation in the Earth's interior, creating 3D images of the mantle's variations in seismic wave speeds.

  • Changes in material properties, such as mineralogy and temperature, affect wave speeds and show up as anomalies in tomographic images.

  • The use of powerful GPUs with additional memory, like the Nvidia Volta GPUs, and AI tools help improve computational performance and identify suitable measurements for accurate imaging.

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