Forced nutations of the earth: influence of inner core dynamics 1. Theory

Mathews, P. M. ; Buffett, B. A. ; Herring, T. A. ; Shapiro, I. I. (1991) Forced nutations of the earth: influence of inner core dynamics 1. Theory Journal of Geophysical Research, 96 (B5). pp. 8219-8242. ISSN 0148-0227

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Gravitational and pressure couplings between the solid inner core and the rest of the Earth give rise to torques through which the inner core influences the nutational motions of the Earth. In view of the very small magnitude of the moment of inertia of the inner core relative to that of the the Earth as a whole, one expects from physical considerations that inclusion of the inner core in the dynamics should lead to a new nutational normal mode with a natural frequency not too far from that of the free core nutation, and to an associated weak resonance in the amplitude of forced nutations. We present here a treatment of the nutation problem for an oceanless, elastic, spheroidally stratified Earth, with the dynamical role of the inner core explicitly included in the formulation. As a preliminary to the setting-up of dynamical equations, we devote some attention to a careful definition of a suitable coordinate system and of certain basic dynamical variables. We use the approach of Sasao et al. (1980), with their system of dynamical equations enlarged by the inclusion of two additional equations which are needed to describe the rotational motion of the inner core. An extension and sharpening of a line of reasoning employed by them enables us to derive expressions for the torques which couple the mantle and the fluid outer core to the solid inner core. Solving the enlarged system of equations, we show that a new nearly diurnal eigenfrequency does emerge; a rough estimate places it not very far from the prograde annual tidal excitation frequency, so that possible resonance effects on nutation amplitudes need careful consideration. Another eigenfrequency, attributable to a wobble of the inner core, is also found; its value is estimated to be a few times smaller than the wobble frequency that the inner core would have in the absence of couplings to the rest of the Earth. Considering an expansion, in terms of resonance contributions, of the amplitude of forced nutations normalized relative to that for a corresponding rigid Earth model, we indicate how the coefficients in the expansion are related to those in expansions of the type used by Wahr (1981b). Finally, we discuss the problem of comparing observed nutation amplitudes with those computed on the basis of Earth models generated from seismological data, with special reference to the fact that the dynamical ellipticity of the Earth, as computed from published Earth models which assume the condition of hydrostatic equilibrium, differs significantly from that determined from the precession constant. Numerical results, corrections for unmodeled effects, and comparison with observational results will be dealt with in accompanying papers.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to American Geophysical Union.
ID Code:20527
Deposited On:20 Nov 2010 14:22
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