EGU22-6428, updated on 28 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Interrogating the volume of the East Irish Sea sedimentary basins using probabilistic tomographic results

Xuebin Zhao, Andrew Curtis, and Xin Zhang
Xuebin Zhao et al.
  • University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences, Edinburgh, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (, and
The ultimate goal of a scientific investigation is usually to find answers to specific questions: what is the size of a subsurface body? Does a hypothesised subsurface feature exist? Which competing model is most consistent with observations? The answers to these and many other questions are low-dimensional, yet must often be inferred from high-dimensional models and data. To address the questions, existing information is reviewed, an experiment is designed and performed to acquire new data, and the most likely answer is estimated. Typically the answer is interpreted from geological and geophysical data or models, but is biased because only one particular forward function (model-data relationship) is considered, one inversion method is applied, and because human interpretation is a biased process. Interrogation theory provides a systematic way to answer specific questions using statistically unbiased estimators. It combines forward, design, inverse and decision theory, and focuses them to maximise information on the space of possible answers.

This study estimates the volume of the East Irish Sea sedimentary basins in the UK using 3D shear wave speed models derived from surface wave dispersion inversions. In order to answer volume-related questions, it is first necessary to define a target function that translates any (high-dimensional) model into (1-dimensional) volumes of interest. A key revelation of this study is that while the majority of computation may be spent solving inverse problems probabilistically, much of the skill and human effort involved in answering real-world questions may be spent defining and calculating those target function values in a clear and unbiased manner.

How to cite: Zhao, X., Curtis, A., and Zhang, X.: Interrogating the volume of the East Irish Sea sedimentary basins using probabilistic tomographic results, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-6428,, 2022.


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