A potential post-perovskite province in D'' beneath the Eastern Pacific: Evidence from new analysis of discrepant SKS-SKKS shear-wave splitting

Joseph Asplet*, James M Wookey, J M Kendall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Observations of seismic anisotropy in the lowermost mantle—D″—are abundant. As seismic anisotropy is known to develop as a response to plastic flow in the mantle, constraining lowermost mantle anisotropy allows us to better understand mantle dynamics. Measuring shear-wave splitting in body wave phases which traverse the lowermost mantle is a powerful tool to constrain this anisotropy. Isolating a signal from lowermost mantle anisotropy requires the use of multiple shear-wave phases, such as SKS and SKKS. These phases can also be used to constrain azimuthal anisotropy in D″: the ray paths of SKS and SKKS are nearly coincident in the upper mantle but diverge significantly at the core–mantle boundary. Any significant discrepancy in the shear-wave splitting measured for each phase can be ascribed to anisotropy in D″. We search for statistically significant discrepancies in shear-wave splitting measured for a data set of 420 SKS–SKKS event–station pairs that sample D″ beneath the Eastern Pacific. To ensure robust results, we develop a new multiparameter approach which combines a measure derived from the eigenvalue minimization approach for measuring shear-wave splitting with an existing splitting intensity method. This combined approach allows for easier automation of discrepant shear-wave splitting analysis. Using this approach we identify 30 SKS–SKKS event–station pairs as discrepant. These predominantly sit along a backazimuth range of 260°–290°. From our results we interpret a region of azimuthal anisotropy in D″ beneath the Eastern Pacific, characterized by null SKS splitting, and mean delay time of 1.15s in SKKS. These measurements corroborate and expand upon previous observations made using SKS–SKKS and S–ScS phases in this region. Our preferred explanation for this anisotropy is the lattice-preferred orientation of post-perovskite. A plausible mechanism for the deformation causing this anisotropy is the impingement of subducted material from the Farallon slab at the core–mantle boundary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2075–2090
Number of pages16
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2020


  • Composition and Structure of the Mantle
  • Seismic Anisotropy
  • North America
  • Mantle Processes


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