Pn anisotropy in Mesozoic western Pacific lithosphere

TitlePn anisotropy in Mesozoic western Pacific lithosphere
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsShintaku, N, Forsyth, DW, Hajewski, CJ, Weeraratne, DS
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Keywordsanisotropy, asthenosphere, mantle, oceanic lithosphere, Pn waves, western Pacific

Pn is the high-frequency, scattered P phase guided for great distances within the old oceanic lithosphere. Two arrays of ocean bottom seismometers were deployed on old (150–160 Ma) seafloor in the northwestern Pacific south of Shatsky Rise for the Pacific Lithosphere Anisotropy and Thickness Experiment. We use Pn phases from 403 earthquakes during the 1 year of deployment to measure apparent velocities across the arrays. Each array was deployed on a separate limb of a magnetic bight, formed near a fast-spreading, ridge-ridge-ridge triple junction. Using high-frequency waves (5–10 Hz), we look at variations of Pn velocities as a function of azimuth. In the western array, we find Pn anisotropy with velocities ranging from 8.7 km/s in the back azimuth (θ) direction of 310° to 7.7 km/s at 350°. In the eastern array, the velocity ranges from 8.5 km/s in back azimuth direction of 210° to 7.7 km/s at 260° and 310°. We observe rapid velocity changes with azimuth in the both arrays requiring sinusoidal variations of roughly equal amplitude as a function of both 2θ and 4θ, which is not expected for the orthorhombic symmetry of olivine or orthopyroxene. The fastest directions on the two limbs are roughly orthogonal to each other suggesting the dominance of fossil anisotropy, but the fast directions of the 2θ components are skewed counterclockwise from the spreading directions. We speculate that the rapid azimuthal variations may be caused by vertical stratification with changing anisotropy with depth in the oceanic lithosphere.


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