P wave tomography and anisotropy beneath Southeast Asia: Insight into mantle dynamics

Zhouchuan Huang, Dapeng Zhao, Liangshu Wang

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113 Citations (Scopus)


Southeast Asia is surrounded by subduction zones resulting from the interactions of several lithospheric plates. Its evolution has been also influenced by active tectonics due to the Indo-Asian collision in the Cenozoic. In this study, we use a large number of arrival-time data of local and regional earthquakes to determine 3-D P wave tomography and azimuthal anisotropy in the mantle beneath SE Asia. High-velocity (high-V) anomalies representing the subducting slabs are clearly visible in the upper mantle and the mantle transition zone (MTZ). Low-velocity (low-V) zones with trench-normal anisotropy are revealed in the uppermost mantle, which indicate back-arc spreading or secondary mantle-wedge flow induced by the slab subduction. In contrast, trench-parallel anisotropy dominates in the deep upper mantle and reflects structures either in the subducting slab or in the upper mantle surrounding the slab. The trench-parallel anisotropy is also significant in the lower MTZ, which may contribute to shear wave splitting observations. A low-V body extending down to the lower mantle is visible under the Hainan volcano far away from the plate boundaries, suggesting that Hainan is a hot spot fed by a lower-mantle plume. The low-V body under Hainan is connected with low-V zones in the upper mantle under SE Tibet and Vietnam. Our P wave anisotropy results reflect significant mantle flow existing in the asthenosphere from SE Tibet to Hainan and further southwestward to Vietnam. The present study, especially the 3-D P wave anisotropy results, provides important new insight into mantle dynamics in SE Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5154-5174
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 1


  • azimuthal anisotropy
  • Hainan plume
  • seismic tomography
  • subduction
  • Tibetan Plateau


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