Our current understanding of large-scale crustal structures is mostly via seismic tomography images, which are similar to CT scans used in medicine. The recent advent of ambient-noise tomography, which relies on information from seismic noise generated by oceans, has proved to be extremely powerful in resolving crustal structures.
Chengxin Jiang’s research aims to interpret the Earth’s history through current snapshots provided by CT Scan images by using seismic noise. Ambient-noise tomography was applied to the North East Tibetan Plateau, South China, and the Great Artesian Basin of North East Australia. Through constructing crustal models an enhanced understanding of tectonic evolution in these areas was developed.
This technique is a much more sustainable replacement to active-source imaging which involves severe human-triggered explosions to simulate high levels of energy comparable with earthquakes. The ambient-noise tomography technique requires no human energy input, but rather uses the unlimited energy provided by interactions between the ocean waves and coastlines.