Eigentone - Earth


Normal modes are generated in the earth from long wavelength seismic waves from large earthquakes interfering to form standing waves.

For an elastic, isotropic, homogeneous sphere, spheroidal, toroidal and radial (or breathing) modes arise. Spheroidal modes only involve P and SV waves (like Rayleigh waves) and depend on overtone number n and angular order l but have degeneracy of azimuthal order m. Increasing l concentrates fundamental branch closer to surface and at large l this tends to Rayleigh waves. Toroidal modes only involve SH waves (like Love waves) and do not exist in fluid outer core. Radial modes are just a subset of spheroidal modes with l=0. The degeneracy doesn’t exists on Earth as it is broken by rotation, ellipticity and 3D heterogeneous velocity and density structure.

We either assume that each mode can be isolated, the self-coupling approximation, or that many modes close in frequency resonant, the cross-coupling approximation. Self-coupling will change just the phase velocity and not the number of waves around a great circle resulting in a stretching or shrinking of standing wave pattern. Cross-coupling can be caused by rotation of Earth leading to mixing of fundamental spheroidal and toroidal modes, or by aspherical mantle structure or Earth’s ellipticity.

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    Chinese proverb.

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