Arroucau, P., Custódio, S., Civiero, C., Silveira, G., Dias, N., Díaz, J., Villaseñor, A., & Bodin, T. (2021). PRISM3D – A three-dimensional reference seismic model for Iberia and adjacent areas. Geophysical Journal International.


We present PRISM3D, a three-dimensional (3D) reference seismic model of P- and S-wave velocities for Iberia and adjacent areas. PRISM3D results from the combination of the most up-to-date Earth models available for the region. It extends horizontally from 15oW to 5oE in longitude, 34oN to 46oN in latitude, and vertically from 3.5 km above to 200 km below sea level, and is modeled on a regular grid with 10 km and 0.5 km of grid node spacing in the horizontal and vertical directions, respectively. It was designed using models inferred from local and teleseismic body-wave tomography, earthquake and ambient noise surface wave tomography, receiver function analysis and active source experiments. It includes two interfaces, namely the topography/bathymetry and the Mohorovičić (Moho) discontinuity. The Moho was modeled from previously published receiver function analysis and deep seismic sounding results. To that end we used a probabilistic surface reconstruction algorithm that allowed to extract the mean of the Moho depth surface along with its associated standard deviation, which provides a depth uncertainty estimate. The Moho depth model is in good agreement with previously published models, although it presents slightly sharper gardients in orogenic areas such as the Pyrenees or the Betic-Rif system. Crustal and mantle P- and S-wave wave speed grids were built separately on each side of the Moho depth surface by weighted average of existing models, thus allowing to realistically render the speed gradients across that interface. The associated weighted standard deviation was also calculated, which provides an uncertainty estimation on the average wave speed values at any point of the grid. At shallow depths (<10 km), low P and S wave speeds and high VP/VS are observed in offshore basins, while the Iberian Massif, which covers a large part of western Iberia, appears characterized by a rather flat Moho, higher than average VP and VS and low VP/VS. Conversely, the Betic-Rif system seems to be associated with low VP and VS, combined with high VP/VS in comparison to the rest of the study area. The most prominent feature of the mantle is the well known high wave speed anomaly related to the Alboran slab imaged in various mantle tomography studies. The consistency of PRISM3D with previous work is verified by comparing it with two recent studies, with which it shows a good general agreement.The impact of the new 3D model is illustrated through a simple synthetic experiment, which shows that the lateral variations of the wave speed can produce travel time differences ranging from -1.5 s and 1.5 s for P waves and from -2.5 s and 2.5 s for S waves at local to regional distances. Such values are far larger than phase picking uncertainties and would likely affect earthquake hypocentral parameter estimations. The new 3D model thus provides a basis for regional studies including earthquake source studies, Earth structure investigations and geodynamic modelling of Iberia and its surroundings.

Reference article

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