Anisotropy from SKS splitting across the Pacific-North America plate boundary offshore southern California

TitleAnisotropy from SKS splitting across the Pacific-North America plate boundary offshore southern California
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRamsay, J, Kohler, MD, Davis, PM, Wang, X, Holt, W, Weeraratne, DS
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Date Publishedoct

SKS arrivals from ocean bottom seismometer (OBS) data from an offshore southern California deployment are analysed for shear wave splitting. The project involved 34 OBSs deployed for 12 months in a region extending up to 500 km west of the coastline into the oceanic Pacific plate. The measurement process consisted of removing the effects of anisotropy using a range of values for splitting fast directions and delay times to minimize energy along the transverse seismometer axis. Computed splitting parameters are unexpectedly similar to onland parameters, exhibiting WSW–ENE fast polarization directions and delays between 0.8 and 1.8 s, even for oceanic plate sites. This is the first SKS splitting study to extend across the entire boundary between the North America and Pacific plates, into the oceanic part of the Pacific plate. The splitting results show that the fast direction of anisotropy on the Pacific plate does not align with absolute plate motion (APM), and they extend the trend of anisotropy in southern California an additional 500 km west, well onto the oceanic Pacific plate. We model the finite strain and anisotropy within the asthenosphere associated with density–buoyancy driven mantle flow and the effects of APM. In the absence of plate motion effects, such buoyancy driven mantle flow would be NE-directed beneath the Pacific plate observations. The best-fit patterns of mantle flow are inferred from the tomography-based models that show primary influences from foundering higher-density zones associated with the history of subduction beneath North America. The new offshore SKS measurements, when combined with measurements onshore within the plate boundary zone, indicate that dramatic lateral variations in density-driven upper-mantle flow are required from offshore California into the plate boundary zone in California and western Basin and Range.


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