Receiver function

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A receiver function technique is a way to model the structure of the Earth by using the information from teleseismic earthquakes recorded at a three component seismograph.

A teleseismic P-wave will generate P to S conversions at crustal boundaries beneath the seismograph. The difference in travel time between the generated S-wave and P-wave contains information about the distance to the boundary and if further reverberations are included more detailed structure can be resolved. This is done by deconvolution of the incoming vertical and longitudinal components of the seismogram which removes the common part of the components - namely, the source and travel path information. The resulting waveform is the receiver function.


  • C. A. Langston: Structure under Mount Rainier, Washington, inferred from teleseismic body waves, J. Geophys. Res. 84(B9), 4749–4762, 1979.
  • Charles J. Ammon, George E. Randall, and George Zandt: On the Nonuniqueness of Receiver Function Inversions, Journal of Geophysical Research 95(B10), 15303–15318, 1990.
  • Malcolm Sambridge: Geophysical inversion with a neighbourhood algorithm – I. Search a parameter space, Geophysical Journal International 138, 479–494, 1999.
  • Frederiksen, A. W., and M. G. Bostock: Modelling teleseismic waves in dipping anisotropic structures, Geophysical Journal International 141, 401–412, 2000.

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