Lithospheric Deformation and Asthenospheric Flow Associated With the Isabella Anomaly in Southern California

Youqiang Yu, Dapeng Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Both laboratory experiments and seismic observations indicate that the solid Earth is composed of strongly anisotropic materials and its dynamics can be better constrained by exploring seismic anisotropy. Due to the limited number and poor depth resolution of currently available seismic anisotropy measurements, tectonic regimes of upper mantle deformations beneath Southern California still remain enigmatic and controversial. Here we present high-resolution three-dimensional models of P wave azimuthal and radial anisotropy in the crust and upper mantle beneath Southern California obtained by a joint inversion of local-seismic and teleseismic P wave data. Our results reveal significant depth-dependent anisotropy in which fast orientations in the lithospheric mantle closely follow the strike of the San Andreas fault and those in the asthenosphere are characterized as a predominantly circular pattern centered in the robust high-velocity Isabella anomaly beneath the Great Valley. The Isabella anomaly is possibly a remnant of the fossil Farallon slab and is currently experiencing a tectonic regime of lithospheric downwelling, contributing to the development of a circular asthenospheric flow. High-velocity anomalies are revealed below 300-km depth beneath areas surrounding the Great Valley, which may reflect the delaminated lithospheric segments. Different rifting processes may take place beneath the Inner Borderland and the Salton Trough whose developments are possibly related to regional mantle upwelling and lithospheric stretching, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8842-8857
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct


  • Isabella anomaly
  • Southern California
  • anisotropy tomography
  • lithospheric delamination
  • lithospheric downwelling
  • rifting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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