The spectral element method, which provides an accurate solution of the elastodynamic problem in heterogeneous media, is implemented in a code, called RegSEM, to compute seismic wave propagation at the regional scale. By regional scale we here mean distances ranging from about 1 km (local scale) to 90 degrees (continental scale). The advantage of RegSEM resides in its ability to accurately take into account 3-D discontinuities such as the sediment-rock interface and the Moho. For this purpose, one version of the code handles local unstructured meshes and another version manages continental structured meshes. The wave equation can be solved in any velocity model, including anisotropy and intrinsic attenuation in the continental version. To validate the code, results from RegSEM are compared to analytical and semi-analytical solutions available in simple cases (e.g. explosion in PREM, plane wave in a hemispherical basin). In addition, realistic simulations of an earthquake in different tomographic models of Europe are performed. All these simulations show the great flexibility of the code and point out the large influence of the shallow layers on the propagation of seismic waves at the regional scale.
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