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Trench-parallel flow and seismic anisotropy in the Mariana and Andean subduction systems

By Erik A. Kneller and Peter E. van Keken


Shear- wave splitting measurements above the mantle wedge of the Mariana(1) and southern Andean(2,3) subduction zones show trench-parallel seismically fast directions close to the trench and abrupt rotations to trench- perpendicular anisotropy in the back arc. These patterns of seismic anisotropy may be caused by three-dimensional flow associated with along- strike variations in slab geometry(1-5). The Mariana and Andean subduction systems are associated with the largest along- strike variations of slab geometry observed on Earth(6,7) and are ideal for testing the link between slab geometry and solid- state creep processes in the mantle. Here we show, with fully three- dimensional non- newtonian subduction zone models, that the strong curvature of the Mariana slab and the transition to shallow slab dip in the Southern Andes give rise to strong trench- parallel stretching in the warm- arc and warm- back-arc mantle and to abrupt rotations in stretching directions that are accompanied by strong trench- parallel stretching. These models show that the patterns of shear- wave splitting observed in the Mariana and southern Andean systems may be caused by significant three- dimensional flow induced by along- strike variations in slab geometry

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1038/nature06429
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