Images of the European crust and upper mantle, created using seismic tomography, identify the Cenozoic Rift System and related volcanism in central and western Europe. They also reveal subduction and slab roll back in the Mediterranean–Carpathian region1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. However, existing tomographic models are either high in resolution, but cover only a limited area13,14, or low in resolution, and thus miss the finer-scale details of mantle structure5,12. Here we simultaneously fit frequency-dependent phase anomalies of body and surface waveforms in complete three-component seismograms with an iterative inversion strategy involving adjoint methods, to create a tomographic model of the European upper mantle. We find that many of the smaller-scale structures such as slabs, upwellings and delaminations that emerge naturally in our model are consistent with existing images. However, we also derive some hitherto unidentified structures. Specifically, we interpret fast seismic-wave speeds beneath the Dinarides Mountains, southern Europe, as a signature of northeastward subduction of the Adria plate; slow seismic-wave speeds beneath the northern part of the Rhine Graben as a reservoir connected to the Eifel hotspot; and fast wave-speed anomalies beneath Scandinavia as a lithospheric drip, where the lithosphere is delaminating and breaking away. Our model sheds new light on the enigmatic palaeotectonic history of Europe.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Panza, G., Mueller, S. & Calcagnile, G. The gross features of the lithosphere–asthenosphere system in Europe from seismic surface and body waves. Pure App. Geophys. 118, 1209–1213 (1980).
Spakman, W. Subduction beneath Eurasia in connection with the Mesozoic Tethys. Geologie en Mijnbouw 65, 145–153 (1986).
Spakman, W. Delay time tomography of the upper mantle below Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia Minor. Geophys. J. Int. 107, 309–332 (1991).
Spakman, W., van der Lee, S. & van der Hilst, R. Travel-time tomography of the European–Mediterranean mantle. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 79, 3–74 (1993).
Zielhuis, A. & Nolet, G. Shear-wave velocity variations in the upper mantle beneath central Europe. Geophys. J. Int. 117, 695–715 (1994).
Goes, S., Spakman, W. & Bijwaard, H. A lower mantle source for European volcanism. Science 286, 1928–1931 (1999).
Piromallo, C. & Morelli, A. P wave tomography of the mantle under the Alpine–Mediterranean area. J. Geophys. Res. 108, B22065 (2003).
Wortel, M. J. R & Spakman, W. Subduction and slab detachment in the Mediterranean–Carpathian region. Science 290, 1910–1917 (2000).
Spakman, W. & Wortel, R. in The TRANSMED Atlas, The Mediterranean Region from Crust to Mantle (eds Cavazza, W., Roure, F. M., Spakman, W., Stampfli, G. & Ziegler, P.A.) 31–52 (Springer, 2004).
Schmid, C., van der Lee, S., VanDecar, J., Engdahl, E. & Giardini, D. Three-dimensional S velocity of the mantle in the Africa-Eurasia plate boundary region from phase arrival times and regional waveforms. J. Geophys. Res. 113, B03306 (2008).
Koulakov, I., Kaban, M., Tesauro, M. & Cloetingh, S. P- and S- velocity anomaly in the upper mantle beneath Europe from tomographic inversion of ISC data. Geophys. J. Int. 179, 345–366 (2009).
Schivardi, R. & Moreli, A. EPmantle: A 3-D transversely isotropic model of the upper mantle under the European Plate. Geophys. J. Int. 185, 469–484 (2011).
Lippitsch, R., Kissling, E. & Ansorge, J. Upper mantle structure beneath the Alpine orogen from high-resolution teleseismic tomography. J. Geophys. Res. 108, B82376 (2003).
Mitterbauer, U. et al. Shape and origin of the east-Alpine slab constrained by the ALPASS teleseismic model. Tectonophysics 510, 195–206 (2011).
Komatitsch, D., Ritsema, J. & Tromp, J. The spectral-element method, Beowulf computing, and global seismology. Science 298, 1737–1742 (2002).
Tarantola, A. Linearized inversion of seismic reflection data. Geophys. Prosp. 32, 998–1015 (1984).
Akçelik, V. et al. High resolution forward and inverse earthquake modeling on terascale computers. Proc. ACM/IEEE Supercomputing SC’2003 Conference (2003). Published on CD-ROM and at http://www.sc-conference.org/sc2003.
Tromp, J., Tape, C. & Liu, Q. Y. Seismic tomography, adjoint methods, time reversal and banana-doughnut kernels. Geophys. J. Int. 160, 195–216 (2005).
Chen, P., Zhao, L. & Jordan, T. H. Full 3D tomography for the crustal structure of the Los Angeles region. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 97, 1094–1120 (2007).
Tape, C., Liu, Q. & Tromp, J. Finite-frequency tomography using adjoint methods—methodology and examples using membrane surface waves. Geophys. J. Int. 168, 1105–1129 (2007).
Tape, C., Liu, Q., Maggi, A. & Tromp, J. Adjoint tomography of the Southern California crust. Science 325, 988–992 (2009).
Tape, C., Liu, Q., Maggi, A. & Tromp, J. Seismic tomography of the southern California crust based on spectral-element and adjoint methods. Geophys. J. Int. 180, 433–462 (2010).
Molinari, I. & Moreli, A. EPcrust: A reference crustal model for the European Plate. Geophys. J. Int. 185, 352–364 (2011).
Kustowski, B., Ekström, G. & Dziewoński, A. M. Anisotropic shear-wave velocity structure of the Earth’s mantle: A global model. J. Geophys. Res. 113, B06306 (2008).
Dziewoński, A. & Anderson, D. Preliminary Reference Earth model. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 25, 297–356 (1981).
Hjörleifsdóttír, V. & Ekström, G. Effects of three-dimensional Earth structure on CMT earthquake parameters. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 179, 178–190 (2010).
Maggi, A., Tape, C., Chen, M., Chao, D. & Tromp, J. An automated time window selection algorithm for seismic tomography. Geophys. J. Int. 178, 257–281 (2009).
Amaru, M. Geologica Ultraiectina, Vol. 274, Ph.D. thesis, Utrecht Univ. (2007).
Dando, B. et al. Teleseismic tomography of the mantle in the Carpathian–Pannonian region of central Europe. Geophys. J. Int. 186, 11–31 (2011).
Fichtner, A. & Trampert, J. Hessian kernels of seismic data functionals based upon adjoint techniques. Geophys. J. Int. 185, 775–798 (2011).
We thank G. Houseman for comments on the structural interpretation and general suggestions that improved the manuscript. We thank J. Trampert and A. Fichtner for discussions regarding resolution analysis in full-waveform inversion and R. Wortel and W. Spakman for sharing their insights into Mediterranean tectonics. We acknowledge the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS; http://www.iris.edu), Observatories and Research Facilities for European Seismology (http://www.orfeus-eu.org) and the Kandilli Observatory (http://www.koeri.boun.edu.tr) for providing the data used in this study. Numerical simulations were carried out on a Dell cluster built and maintained by the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering. Data and synthetic processing was accomplished based on the Seismic Analysis Code (Goldstein, 2003). All maps and cross-sections were made with the Generic Mapping Tool (Wessel, 1991). The open-source spectral element software package SPECFEM3D_GLOBE and the seismic-measurement software package FLEXWIN used for this article are freely available for download through the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics (http://www.geodynamics.org). This research was supported by the US National Science Foundation under grant EAR-0711177.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Zhu, H., Bozdağ, E., Peter, D. et al. Structure of the European upper mantle revealed by adjoint tomography. Nature Geosci 5, 493–498 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1501
Seismic pumping for mineralizaiton in southern Fujian, Cathaysia Block: New insights from a teleseismic full waveform inversion
Ore Geology Reviews (2021)
Evidence for radial anisotropy in the lower crust of the Apennines from Bayesian ambient noise tomography in Europe
Geophysical Journal International (2021)
Morphostructural Setting and Tectonic Evolution of the Central Part of the Sicilian Channel (Central Mediterranean)
Geophysical Journal International (2021)
A gradient-based Markov chain Monte Carlo method for full-waveform inversion and uncertainty analysis