Upper mantle anisotropy beneath Peru from SKS splitting: Constraints on flat slab dynamics and interaction with the Nazca Ridge

Caroline M. Eakin, Maureen D. Long, Lara S. Wagner, Susan L. Beck, Hernando Tavera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Peruvian flat slab is by far the largest region of flat subduction in the world today, but aspects of its structure and dynamics remain poorly understood. In particular, questions remain over whether the relatively narrow Nazca Ridge subducting beneath southern Peru provides dynamic support for the flat slab or it is just a passive feature. We investigate the dynamics and interaction of the Nazca Ridge and the flat slab system by studying upper mantle seismic anisotropy across southern Peru. We analyze shear wave splitting of SKS, sSKS, and PKS phases at 49 stations distributed across the area, primarily from the PerU Lithosphere and Slab Experiment (PULSE). We observe distinct spatial variations in anisotropic structure along strike, most notably a sharp transition from coherent splitting in the north to pervasive null (non-split) arrivals in the south, with the transition coinciding with the northern limit of the Nazca Ridge. For both anisotropic domains there is evidence for complex and multi-layered anisotropy. To the north of the ridge our *KS splitting measurements likely reflect trench-normal mantle flow beneath the flat slab. This signal is then modified by shallower anisotropic layers, most likely in the supra-slab mantle, but also potentially from within the slab. To the south the sub-slab mantle is similarly anisotropic, with a trench-oblique fast direction, but widespread nulls appear to reflect dramatic heterogeneity in anisotropic structure above the flat slab. Overall the regional anisotropic structure, and thus the pattern of deformation, appears to be closely tied to the location of the Nazca Ridge, which further suggests that the ridge plays a key role in the mantle dynamics of the Peruvian flat slab system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume412
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 5 2015

Keywords

  • Flat slab subduction
  • Nazca Ridge
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Shear wave splitting
  • South America

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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