Testing the limits of Virtual Deep Seismic Sounding via new crustal thickness estimates of the Australian continent

David A. Thompson*1, Nick Rawlinson2, Hrvoje Tkalčić3

1School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, UK (thompsond10@cardiff.ac.uk), 2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK, 3Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

We apply virtual deep seismic sounding (VDSS) to data collected from both permanent and temporary seismic stations in Australia with the goal of examining (i) the resilience of the method to the presence of complex lithospheric structure, and (ii) the effectiveness of different approaches for estimating bulk crustal properties (namely thickness and Vp). Data from the permanent WRAB in the Northern Territory station is ideal for benchmarking VDSS (large number and favourable distribution of recorded earthquakes), with the results from several approaches agreeing on a thickness of 40-42 km. Ap- plication of VDSS to data from the temporary BILBY array, a linear distribution of broadband stations that traverses central Australia, shows that strong Moho reflections can be retrieved with as few as two earthquakes even at the transition between crustal blocks of different character and in the presence of thick sedimentary basins. Crustal thickness varies between 36-54 km and compare well with the reflectivity character of nearby deep seismic reflection lines. Furthermore, we find that off-line estimates of crustal thickness, calculated by binning the source regions according to back-azimuth, produce estimates of crustal thickness that are consistent with the regional geology. Overall, we find that VDSS is a powerful technique for estimating crustal thickness and velocity due to its insensitivity to complex short-wavelength structure and requirement of a small number earthquakes to produce a stable result. However, not all schemes tested for extracting bulk crustal properties appear to be robust and stringent data quality checking is still required during implementation.

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