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  1. Abstract

    To investigate the effects of a slab edge and varying slab geometry on the mantle flow systems beneath south central Alaska, a total of 971 pairs of teleseismic shear wave (SKS, SKKS, and PKS) and 65 pairs of local S wave splitting parameters (fast orientations and splitting times) are measured using data from the USArray and other networks. The Pacific‐Yakutat slab edge separates two regions with different characteristics of the splitting measurements. The area to the west of the slab edge has greater splitting times and mostly trench parallel fast orientations, and the area to the east is dominated by smaller splitting times and spatially varying fast orientations. The spatial distribution of the splitting parameters and results of anisotropy layering and depth analyses can be explained by a model involving three flow systems. The sub‐slab flow initially entraining with the shallow‐dipping Yakutat slab deflects to a trench‐parallel direction due to slab retreat and an increase in slab dip, and flows northeastward toward the slab edge, where it splits into two branches. The first branch enters the mantle wedge as a toroidal flow and flows southwestward along the slab, and the second branch continues approximately eastward. The flowlines of the toroidal and continued flow systems are approximately orthogonal to each other in the vicinity of the slab edge, producing the observed small splitting times and spatially varying fast orientations.

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  2. Abstract

    To discern spatial and explore possible existence of temporal variations of upper crustal anisotropy in an ∼15 km section of the San Jacinto Fault Zone (SJFZ) that is composed of the Buck Ridge and Clark faults in southern California, we conduct a systematic shear wave splitting investigation using local S‐wave data recorded by three broadband seismic stations located near the surface expression of the SJFZ. An automatic data selection and splitting measurement procedure is first applied, and the resulting splitting measurements are then manually screened to ensure reliability of the results. Strong spatial variations in crustal anisotropy are revealed by 1,694 pairs of splitting parameters (fast polarization orientation and splitting delay time), as reflected by the dependence of the resulting splitting parameters on the location and geometry of the raypaths. For raypaths traveling through the fault zones, the fast orientations are dominantly WNW‐ESE which is parallel to the faults and may be attributed to fluid‐filled fractures in the fault zones. For non‐fault‐zone crossing raypaths, the fast orientations are dominantly N–S which are consistent with the orientation of the regional maximum compressive stress. A three‐dimensional model of upper crustal anisotropy is constructed based on the observations. An increase in the raypath length normalized splitting times is observed after the 03/11/2013 M4.7 earthquake, which is probably attributable to changes in the spatial distribution of earthquakes before and after the M4.7 earthquake rather than reflecting temporal changes of upper crustal anisotropy.

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  3. Abstract

    This study represents the first campaign‐style teleseismic shear wave splitting (SWS) investigation of central Myanmar, an area that is tectonically controlled by the oblique subduction of the Indian Plate underneath the Eurasian Plate. The resulting 678 well‐defined and 247 null SWS measurements obtained from recently deployed 71 broadband seismic stations show that the Indo‐Burma Ranges (IBR) possess mostly N‐S fast orientations that are parallel to the trend of the depth contours of the subducted slab. Relative to the global average of 1.0 s, extremely large splitting times with station‐averaged values ranging from 1.28 to 2.79 s and an area‐averaged value of 2.09 ± 0.55 s are observed in the IBR. In contrast, the Central Basin (CB) and the Shan Plateau (SP) are characterized by slightly larger than normal splitting times. The fast orientations observed in the CB are mostly NE‐SW in the northern part of the study area, N‐S in the central part, and NW‐SE in the southern part. The fast orientations change from nearly N‐S along the N‐S oriented Sagaing Fault, to NW‐SE in the central and eastern portions of the SP. These observations, together with SWS measurements using local S events, crustal anisotropy measurements using P‐to‐S receiver functions, and the estimated depth of the source of anisotropy using the spatial coherency of the splitting parameters, suggest the presence of a trench‐parallel sub‐slab flow system driven by slab rollback, a trench‐perpendicular corner flow, and a trench‐parallel flow possibly entering the mantle wedge through a slab window or gap.

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  4. Abstract

    To systematically investigate seismic azimuthal anisotropy in the Sumatra subduction zone and probe mantle dynamics associated with the subduction of the Australian Plate beneath the Sunda Plate, a total of 169 pairs of teleseismic XKS (including PKS, SKKS, SKS) and 115 pairs of localSsplitting parameters are obtained using broadband seismic data recorded at ~70 stations. Additionally, crustal anisotropy in the overriding Sunda Plate is measured by analyzing the moveout ofP‐to‐Sconversions from the Moho using a sinusoidal function. Comparison between the three sets of anisotropy measurements obtained using shear waves with different depths of origin suggests that (1) the crust of the Sunda Plate is anisotropic with mostly trench‐parallel fast orientations and a mean splitting time of 0.28 ± 0.05 s; (2) the mantle wedge is azimuthally anisotropic with dominantly trench‐parallel fast orientations and splitting times ranging from 0.22 to 0.81 s, which generally increase with the focal depth; and (3) subslab anisotropy is mostly trench‐normal beneath the fore‐arc region with an averaged splitting time of 1.48 ± 0.06 s, and becomes trench‐parallel beneath the arc and back‐arc areas with a mean splitting time of 0.33 ± 0.04 s. The resulting lateral and vertical distributions of anisotropy obtained using splitting of three types of shear waves advocate the presence of an entrained subslab flow that is deflected by the mantle transition zone. The flow enters the mantle wedge through a slab window and flows horizontally parallel to the trench.

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  5. Abstract

    Seismic azimuthal anisotropy characterized by shear wave splitting analyses using teleseismicXKSphases (includingSKS,SKKS, andPKS) is widely employed to constrain the deformation field in the Earth's crust and mantle. Due to the near‐vertical incidence of theXKSarrivals, the resulting splitting parameters (fast polarization orientations and splitting times) have an excellent horizontal but poor vertical resolution, resulting in considerable ambiguities in the geodynamic interpretation of the measurements. Here we useP‐to‐Sconverted phases from the Moho and the 410‐ (d410) and 660‐km (d660) discontinuities to investigate anisotropy layering beneath Southern California. Similarities between the resulting splitting parameters from theXKSandP‐to‐Sconverted phases from thed660 suggest that the lower mantle beneath the study area is azimuthally isotropic. Similarly, significant azimuthal anisotropy is not present in the mantle transition zone on the basis of the consistency between the splitting parameters obtained usingP‐to‐Sconverted phases from thed410 andd660. Crustal anisotropy measurements exhibit a mean splitting time of 0.2 ± 0.1 s and mostly NW‐SE fast orientations, which are significantly different from the dominantly E‐W fast orientations revealed usingXKSandP‐to‐Sconversions from thed410 andd660. Anisotropy measurements using shear waves with different depths of origin suggest that the Earth's upper mantle is the major anisotropic layer beneath Southern California. Additionally, this study demonstrates the effectiveness of applying a set of azimuthal anisotropy analysis techniques to reduce ambiguities in the depth of the source of the observed anisotropy.

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  6. Approximately two-thirds of Earth’s outermost shell is composed of oceanic plates that form at spreading ridges and recycle back to Earth’s interior in subduction zones. A series of physical and chemical changes occur in the subducting lithospheric slab as the temperature and pressure increase with depth. In particular, olivine, the most abundant mineral in the upper mantle, progressively transforms to its high-pressure polymorphs near the mantle transition zone, which is bounded by the 410 km and 660 km discontinuities. However, whether olivine still exists in the core of slabs once they penetrate the 660 km discontinuity remains debated. Based on SKS and SKKS shear-wave differential splitting times, we report new evidence that reveals the presence of metastable olivine in the uppermost lower mantle within the ancient Farallon plate beneath the eastern United States. We estimate that the low-density olivine layer in the subducted Farallon slab may compensate the high density of the rest of the slab associated with the low temperature, leading to neutral buoyancy and preventing further sinking of the slab into the deeper part of the lower mantle. 
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