Subduction of the Chile Ridge: Upper mantle structure and flow
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We deployed 39 broadband seismometers in southern Chile from Dec. 2004 to Feb. 2007 to determine lithosphere and upper mantle structure in the vicinity of the subducting Chile Ridge. Body-wave travel-time tomography clearly shows the existence of a long-hypothesized slab window, a gap between the subducted Nazca and Antarctic lithospheres. P-wave velocities in the slab gap are distinctly slow relative to surrounding asthenospheric mantle. Thus, the gap between slabs visible in the imaging appears to be filled by unusually warm asthenosphere, consistent with subduction of the Chile Ridge. Shear wave splitting in the Chile Ridge subduction region is very strong (mean delay time ~3 s) and highly variable. North of the slab windows, splitting fast directions are mostly trench parallel, but, in the region of the slab gap, splitting fast trends appear to fan from NW-SE trends in the north, through ENE-WSW trends toward the middle of the slab window, to NE-SW trends south of the slab window. We interpret these results as indicating flow of asthenospheric upper mantle into the slab window.
** Now at St. Ives Gold Mining Company, Kambalda, Australia.
Manuscript received 3 June 2009; accepted 4 Feb. 2010