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Pervasive lower crustal seismic anisotropy in southern California: Evidence for underplated schists

Ryan C. Porter, George Zandt, & Nadine McQuarrie

Submitted 2009, SCEC Contribution #1345

Understanding lower crustal deformational processes and the related features that can be imaged by seismic waves is an important goal in active tectonics. We demonstrate that teleseismic receiver functions calculated for broadband seismic stations in southern California reveal a signature of pervasive seismic anisotropy in the lower crust. The large amplitudes and small move-out of the diagnostic converted phases, as well as the broad similarity of data patterns on widely separated stations, support an origin primarily from a basal crustal layer of hexagonal anisotropy with a dipping symmetry axis. Neighborhood algorithm searches for depth and thickness of the anisotropic layer and the trend and plunge of the anisotropy symmetry (slow) axis, have been completed for 38 stations. The searches produced a wide range of results, but a dominant SW-NE trend of the symmetry axis emerged. When the results are divided into crustal blocks and restored to their pre-36 Ma locations the regional scale SW-NE trend becomes even more consistent though a small subset of the results can be attributed to NW-SE shearing that may be related to San Andreas transform motion. We interpret this dominant trend as a fossilized fabric within schists, created from top-to-the-southwest sense of shear that existed along the length of coastal California during pre-transform, early Tertiary subduction. Comparison of receiver function common conversion point stacks to seismic models from the active LARSE experiment shows a strong correlation in the location of anisotropic layers with “bright” reflectors further affirming these results.

Porter, R. C., Zandt, G., & McQuarrie, N. (2009). Pervasive lower crustal seismic anisotropy in southern California: Evidence for underplated schists. Journal of Geophysical Research, (submitted).