A double velocity jump in the Earth's core entails a PKP travel-time curve with two lengthy branches extending back from 143°. The later branch is associated with the PKIKP phase. The earlier branch arises from waves, here designated PKHKP, which are refracted through the intermediate shell.
Theoretical travel-time curves for PKP and SKS in possible Earth models with tripartite cores are presented. It is shown that the PKHKP branch provides an explanation for precursors to PKIKP observed at epicentral distances between 123° and 140°. Observations of waves predicted by the portion of this branch from 148° to 156° have been also reported. The SKS curve is examined in the light of some 550 SKS observations in the range 85° < Δ < 145°.
The study provides evidence that there is in the core a discrete shell with thickness of order 420 kms and with a mean P velocity near 10.31 km/sec. This shell surrounds the inner core having mean radius 1220 kms and mean P velocity 11.22 km/sec, approximately. The material of the intermediate shell is not likely to have marked rigidity. The inner core is likely to be solid; published times for PKJKP waves may be, however, too small by several minutes.