A feasibility study was made concerning the use of the ellipticity of the Rayleigh wave particle motion for determining earth structures. Variational parameters were computed empirically for both the ellipticity and phase velocity of Rayleigh waves in the period range T = 10-50 seconds. It was found that, in general, the ellipticity and phase velocity are about equally sensitive to structural perturbations, but that near-surface low-velocity sedimentary layers influence the ellipticity much more strongly than they do the phase velocity. Anelasticity has a minor effect on the ellipticity, whereas the presence of interfering waves can have a significant influence.
A test of the independence between ellipticity and phase velocity indicated that in our period range ellipticity does contribute independent information, and thus provides an additional constraint toward uniqueness.
Using data from LASA, both ellipticity and Rayleigh- and Love-wave phase velocities were measured and the results interpreted in terms of a crustal structure. The ellipticity data proved useful when combined with the phase velocity and some structures that fit the phase velocity data could be rejected on the basis of ellipticity.