Moho depth uncertainties in the Vening-Meinesz Moritz inverse problem of isostasy

Mohammad Bagherbandi, Robert Tenzer, Lars E. Sjöberg

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We formulate an error propagation model based on solving the Vening Meinesz-Moritz (VMM) inverse problem of isostasy. The system of observation equations in the VMM model defines the relation between the isostatic gravity data and the Moho depth by means of a second-order Fredholm integral equation of the first kind. The corresponding error model (derived in a spectral domain) functionally relates the Moho depth errors with the commission errors of used gravity and topographic/bathymetric models. The error model also incorporates the non-isostatic bias which describes the disagreement, mainly of systematic nature, between the isostatic and seismic models. The error analysis is conducted at the study area of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas with the world largest crustal thickness. The Moho depth uncertainties due to errors of the currently available global gravity and topographic models are estimated to be typically up to 1-2 km, provided that the GOCE gravity gradient observables improved the medium-wavelength gravity spectra. The errors due to disregarding sedimentary basins can locally exceed ∼2 km. The largest errors (which cause a systematic bias between isostatic and seismic models) are attributed to unmodeled mantle heterogeneities (including the core-mantle boundary) and other geophysical processes. These errors are mostly less than 2 km under significant orogens (Himalayas, Ural), but can reach up to ∼10 km under the oceanic crust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-248
Number of pages22
JournalStudia Geophysica et Geodaetica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • crust
  • gravity
  • isostasy
  • mantle
  • Moho interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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