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Geod Geodyn. 2016 Nov;7(6):396-405. doi: 10.1016/j.geog.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Nov 4.

Assessment of the effect of three-dimensional mantle density heterogeneity on earth rotation in tidal frequencies.

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Center for Integrative Geosciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, 11529, ROC.
School of Earth Sciences, University of CAS, Beijing, 100049, PRC.
Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA.


In this paper we report the assessment of the effect of the three-dimensional (3D) density heterogeneity in the mantle on Earth Orientation Parameters (EOP) (i.e., the polar motion, or PM, and the length of day, or LOD) in the tidal frequencies. The 3D mantle density model is estimated based upon a global S-wave velocity tomography model (S16U6L8) and the mineralogical knowledge derived from laboratory experiment. The lateral density variation is referenced against the Preliminary Reference Earth Model (PREM). Using this approach the effects of the heterogeneous mantle density variation in all three tidal frequencies (zonal long periods, tesseral diurnal, and sectorial semidiurnal) are estimated in both PM and LOD. When compared with mass or density perturbations originated on the earth's surface such as the oceanic and barometric changes, the heterogeneous mantle only contributes less than 10% of the total variation in PM and LOD in tidal frequencies. Nevertheless, including the 3D variation of the density in the mantle into account explained a substantial portion of the discrepancy between the observed signals in PM and LOD extracted from the lump-sum values based on continuous space geodetic measurement campaigns (e.g., CONT94) and the computed contribution from ocean tides as predicted by tide models derived from satellite altimetry observations (e.g., TOPEX/Poseidon). In other word, the difference of the two, at all tidal frequencies (long-periods, diurnals, and semi-diurnals) contains contributions of the lateral density heterogeneity of the mantle. Study of the effect of mantle density heterogeneity effect on torque-free earth rotation may provide useful constraints to construct the Reference Earth Model (REM), which is the next major objective in global geophysics research beyond PREM.

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