Three-dimensional interface modelling with two-dimensional seismic data: the Alpine crust–mantle boundary

Waldhauser, Felix; Kissling, Edi; Ansorge, Jörg; Mueller, St.

We present a new approach to determine the 3-D topography and lateral continuity of seismic interfaces using 2-D-derived controlled-source seismic reflector data. The aim of the approach is to give the simplest possible structure consistent with all reflector data and error estimates. We define simplicity of seismic interfaces by the degree of interface continuity (i.e. shortest length of offsets) and by the degree of interface roughness (least surface roughness). The method is applied to structural information of the crust–mantle boundary (Moho) obtained from over 250 controlled-source seismic reflection and refraction profiles in the greater Alpine region. The reflected and refracted phases from the Moho interface and their interpretation regarding crustal thickness are reviewed and their reliability weighted. Weights assigned to each reflector element are transformed to depth errors considering Fresnel volumes. The 2-D-derived reflector elements are relocated in space (3-D migration) and interpolation is performed between the observed reflector elements to obtain continuity of model parameters. Interface offsets are introduced only where required according to the principle of simplicity.

The resulting 3-D model of the Alpine crust–mantle boundary shows two offsets that divide the interface into a European, an Adriatic and a Ligurian Moho, with the European Moho subducting below the Adriatic Moho, and with the Adriatic Moho underthrusting the Ligurian Moho. Each sub-interface depicts the smoothest possible (i.e. simplest) surface, fitting the reflector data within their assigned errors. The results are consistent with previous studies for those regions with dense and reliable controlled-source seismic data. The newly derived Alpine Moho interface, however, surpasses earlier studies by its lateral extent over an area of about 600 km by 600 km, by quantifying reliability estimates along the interface, and by obeying the principle of being consistently as simple as possible.


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Geophysical Journal International

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