Back to overview

AxiSEM: Broadband 3D seismic wavefields in axisymmetric media

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Nissen-Meyer T. van Driel M. Stähler S. Hosseini K. Hempel S. Auer L. Colombi A. and A,
Project New challenges in mapping seismic waveforms into the Earth's mantle: anisotropy and mantle flow
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Solid Earth Discuss.
Volume (Issue) 5
Page(s) 425 - 445
Title of proceedings Solid Earth Discuss.
DOI 10.5194/sed-6-265-2014


We present a methodology to compute 3-D global seismic wavefields for realistic earthquake sources in visco-elastic anisotropic media, covering applications across the observable seismic frequency band with moderate computational resources. This is accommodated by mandating axisymmetric background models that allow for a multipole expansion such that only a 2-D computational domain is needed, whereas the azimuthal third dimension is computed analytically on the fly. This dimensional collapse opens doors for storing space–time wavefields on disk that can be used to compute Fréchet sensitivity kernels for waveform tomography. We use the corresponding publicly available AxiSEM ( open-source spectral-element code, demonstrate its excellent scalability on supercomputers, a diverse range of applications ranging from normal modes to small-scale lowermost mantle structures, tomographic models, and comparison with observed data, and discuss further avenues to pursue with this methodology.