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Travel time tomographic studies of seismic structures around subducted lithospheric slabs


Zhou, Hua-wei (1990) Travel time tomographic studies of seismic structures around subducted lithospheric slabs. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/57m9-s813.


The nature of the subducted lithospheric slab is investigated seismologically by tomographic inversions of ISC residual travel times. The slab, in which nearly all deep earthquakes occur, is fast in the seismic images because it is much cooler than the ambient mantle. High resolution three-dimensional P and S wave models in the NW Pacific are obtained using regional data, while inversion for the SW Pacific slabs includes teleseismic arrivals. Resolution and noise estimations show the models are generally well-resolved.

The slab anomalies in these models, as inferred from the seismicity, are generally coherent in the upper mantle and become contorted and decrease in amplitude with depth. Fast slabs are surrounded by slow regions shallower than 350 km depth. Slab fingering, including segmentation and spreading, is indicated near the bottom of the upper mantle. The fast anomalies associated with the Japan, Izu-Bonin, Mariana and Kermadec subduction zones tend to flatten to sub-horizontal at depth, while downward spreading may occur under parts of the Mariana and Kuril arcs. The Tonga slab appears to end around 550 km depth, but is underlain by a fast band at 750-1000 km depths.

The NW Pacific model combined with the Clayton-Comer mantle model predicts many observed residual sphere patterns. The predictions indicate that the near-source anomalies affect the residual spheres less than the teleseismic contributions. The teleseismic contributions may be removed either by using a mantle model, or using teleseismic station averages of residuals from only regional events. The slab-like fast bands in the corrected residual spheres are are consistent with seismicity trends under the Mariana Tzu-Bonin and Japan trenches, but are inconsistent for the Kuril events.

The comparison of the tomographic models with earthquake focal mechanisms shows that deep compression axes and fast velocity slab anomalies are in consistent alignment, even when the slab is contorted or flattened. Abnormal stress patterns are seen at major junctions of the arcs. The depth boundary between tension and compression in the central parts of these arcs appears to depend on the dip and topology of the slab.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Geophysics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Clayton, Robert W.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:4 August 1989
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10102013-155017222
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7989
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Oct 2013 16:10
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 23:08

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