Seismic Anisotropy Tomography and Mantle Dynamics

Dapeng Zhao, Xin Liu, Zewei Wang, Tao Gou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Seismic anisotropy tomography is the updated geophysical imaging technology that can reveal 3-D variations of both structural heterogeneity and seismic anisotropy, providing unique constraints on geodynamic processes in the Earth’s crust and mantle. Here we introduce recent advances in the theory and application of seismic anisotropy tomography, thanks to abundant and high-quality data sets recorded by dense seismic networks deployed in many regions in the past decades. Applications of the novel techniques led to new discoveries in the 3-D structure and dynamics of subduction zones and continental regions. The most significant findings are constraints on seismic anisotropy in the subducting slabs. Fast-velocity directions (FVDs) of azimuthal anisotropy in the slabs are generally trench-parallel, reflecting fossil lattice-preferred orientation of aligned anisotropic minerals and/or shape-preferred orientation due to transform faults produced at the mid-ocean ridge and intraslab hydrated faults formed at the outer-rise area near the oceanic trench. The slab deformation may play an important role in both mantle flow and intraslab fabric. Trench-parallel anisotropy in the forearc has been widely observed by shear-wave splitting measurements, which may result, at least partly, from the intraslab deformation due to outer-rise yielding of the incoming oceanic plate. In the mantle wedge beneath the volcanic front and back-arc areas, FVDs are trench-normal, reflecting subduction-driven corner flows. Trench-normal FVDs are also revealed in the subslab mantle, which may reflect asthenospheric shear deformation caused by the overlying slab subduction. Toroidal mantle flow is observed in and around a slab edge or slab window. Significant azimuthal and radial anisotropies occur in the big mantle wedge beneath East Asia, reflecting hot and wet upwelling flows as well as horizontal flows associated with deep subduction of the western Pacific plate and its stagnation in the mantle transition zone. The geodynamic processes in the big mantle wedge have caused craton destruction, back-arc spreading, and intraplate seismic and volcanic activities. Ductile flow in the middle-lower crust is clearly revealed as prominent seismic anisotropy beneath the Tibetan Plateau, which affects the generation of large crustal earthquakes and mountain buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-982
Number of pages36
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Aug

Keywords

  • Earthquake
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Seismic tomography
  • Subduction zones
  • Volcano

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