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Azimuthal seismic anisotropy of 70 Ma Pacific‐plate upper mantle

February 11, 2019

Plate formation and evolution processes are predicted to generate upper mantle seismic anisotropy and negative vertical velocity gradients in oceanic lithosphere. However, predictions for upper mantle seismic velocity structure do not fully agree with the results of seismic experiments. The strength of anisotropy observed in the upper mantle varies widely. Further, many refraction studies observe a fast direction of anisotropy rotated several degrees with respect to the paleospreading direction, suggesting that upper mantle anisotropy records processes other than 2D corner flow and plate‐driven shear near mid‐ocean ridges. We measure 6.0 ± 0.3% anisotropy at the Moho in 70 Ma lithosphere in the central Pacific with a fast direction parallel to paleospreading, consistent with mineral alignment by 2D mantle flow near a mid‐ocean ridge. We also find an increase in the strength of anisotropy with depth, with vertical velocity gradients estimated at 0.02 km/s/km in the fast direction and 0 km/s/km in the slow direction. The increase in anisotropy with depth can be explained by mechanisms for producing anisotropy other than intrinsic effects from mineral fabric, such as aligned cracks or other structures. This measurement of seismic anisotropy and gradients reflects the effects of both plate formation and evolution processes on seismic velocity structure in mature oceanic lithosphere, and can serve as a reference for future studies to investigate the processes involved in lithospheric formation and evolution.

Publication Year 2019
Title Azimuthal seismic anisotropy of 70 Ma Pacific‐plate upper mantle
DOI 10.1029/2018JB016451
Authors H. F. Mark, D. Lizarralde, J. A. Collins, Nathaniel C. Miller, G. Hirth, J. B. Gaherty, R. L. Evans
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Index ID 70202101
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center