Upper Mantle Radial Anisotropy Under the Indian Ocean from Higher Mode Surface Waves and a Hierarchical Transdismensional Approach

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Erik Weidner , Caroline Beghein , Quancheng Huang, Nicholas Schmerr


We investigated the likelihood of radial anisotropy in the shallow and deep upper mantle, including the mantle transition zone (MTZ) under the Indian Ocean. Seismic anisotropy can be an indicator of mantle deformation through lattice preferred orientation of anisotropic crystals in the mantle. It has thus the potential to illuminate Earth's dynamic interior, but previous seismic tomography studies have not achieved consensus on the existence of radial anisotropy below ~250 km depth. We developed a fully non-linear transdimensional hierarchical Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo approach to invert fundamental and higher mode surface wave dispersion data and applied it to a subset of a global Love and Rayleigh wave dataset. We obtained posterior model parameter distributions for shear-wave velocity and radial anisotropy under the Indian Ocean. These posterior model distributions were used to calculate the probability of having radial anisotropy at different depths. We demonstrated that separate inversions of Love and Rayleigh waves yield models compatible with the results of joint inversions within uncertainties. The obtained pattern of shear-wave velocity anomalies agrees with previous studies. They display negative anomalies along ridges in the uppermost mantle, but those are stronger than for regularized inversions. The Central Indian Ridge and the Southeastern Indian Ridge present velocity anomalies that extend to ~200 km depth whereas the Southwestern Indian Ridge seems to have a shallower origin. Weaker, laterally variable velocity perturbations were found at larger depths. The anisotropy models differ more strongly from regularized inversion results, especially below 100 km depth. Apart from a fast horizontally polarized shear-wave signal in the top 100 km, likely reflecting the horizontal plate motion due to asthenospheric deformation, no clear relation to surface geology was detected in the anisotropy models. We found that, although the anisotropy model uncertainties are rather large, and lateral variations are present, the data generally prefer at least 1\% anisotropy in the MTZ with fast vertically polarized shear waves, within errors. Incorporating group velocity data did not help better constrain deep structure by reducing parameter trade-offs. We also tested the effect of prior constraints on the 410- and 660-km topography and found that the undulations of these discontinuities had little effect on the resulting models.




Earth Sciences, Geophysics and Seismology


Surface waves, Seismic tomography, Seismic anisotropy, Inverse theory, Probability distributions


Published: 2021-02-03 09:46

Last Updated: 2021-02-03 17:46


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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