Seismic scatterers in the mid-lower mantle beneath Tonga-Fiji

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Abstract

We analyze deep and intermediate-depth earthquakes at the Tonga-Fiji region in order to reveal the distribution of scattering objects in the mid-lower mantle. By array processing waveform data recorded at regional seismograph stations in the US, Alaska, and Japan, we investigate S-to-P scattering waves in the P coda, which arise from kilometer-scale chemically distinct objects in the mid-lower mantle beneath Tonga-Fiji. With ten scatterers previously reported by the author included, twenty-three mid-lower mantle scatterers have been detected below 900 km depth, while scatterers deeper than 1900 km have not been identified. Strong mid-lower mantle S-to-P scattering most frequently occurs at the scatterers located within a depth range between 1400 km and 1600 km. The number of scatterers decreases below 1600 km depth, and the deeper objects tend to be weaker. The scatterer distribution may reflect diminishing elastic anomalies of basaltic rocks with depth relative to the surrounding mantle rocks, which mineral physics has predicted to occur. The predominant occurrence of strong S-to-P scattering waves within a narrow depth range may reflect significant reduction of rigidity due to the ferro-elastic transformation of stishovite in basaltic rocks. Very large signals associated with mid-mantle scatterers are observed only for a small portion of the entire earthquake-array pairs. Such infrequent observations of large scattering signals, combined with quite large event-to-event differences in the scattering intensity for each scatterer, suggest both that the strong arrivals approximately represent ray theoretical S-to-P converted waves at objects with a plane geometry. The plane portions of the strong scatterers may often dip steeply, with the size exceeding 100 km. For a few strong scatterers, the range of receivers showing clear scattered waves varies substantially from earthquake-array pair to pair. Some of the scatterers are also observed at different arrays that have significantly different directions of incident waves to the scatterers. Furthermore, weak but coherent P-to-P scattered waves as well as S-to-P waves are observed for a few of the scatterers. These observations indicate that the locally plane scatterers also possess substantial topography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Volume274
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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