Partial uniqueness and obstruction to uniqueness in inverse problems for anisotropic elastic media

Anna L. Mazzucato, Lizabeth V. Rachele

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19 Scopus citations


We consider the inverse problem of identifying the density and elastic moduli for three-dimensional anisotropic elastic bodies, given displacement and traction measurements made at their surface. These surface measurements are modelled by the dynamic Dirichlet-to-Neumann map on a finite time interval. For linear or nonlinear anisotropic hyperelastic bodies we show that the displacement-to-traction surface measurements do not change when the density and elasticity tensor in the interior are transformed tensorially by a change of coordinates fixing the surface of the body to first order. Our main tool, a new approach in inverse problems for elastic media, is the representation of the equations of motion in a covariant form (following Marsden and Hughes, 1983) that preserves the underlying physics. In the case of classical linear elastodynamics we then investigate how the type of anisotropy changes under coordinate transformations. That is, we analyze the orbits of general linear, anisotropic elasticity tensors under the action by pull-back of diffeomorphisms that fix the surface of the elastic body to first order, and derive a pointwise characterization of parts of the orbits under this action. For example, we show that the orbit of isotropic elastic media, at any point in the body, consists of some transversely isotropic and some orthotropic elastic media. We then derive the first uniqueness result in the inverse problem for anisotropic media using surface displacement-traction data: uniqueness of three elastic moduli for tensors in the orbit of isotropic elasticity tensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-245
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Elasticity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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