Seismic anisotropy in the lowermost mantle beneath North America from SKS-SKKS splitting intensity discrepancies

Katherine A. Lutz, Maureen D. Long, Neala Creasy, Jie Deng

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11 Scopus citations


We examined SKS-SKKS splitting intensity discrepancies for phases that sample the lowermost mantle beneath North America, which has previously been shown to exhibit seismic anisotropy using other analysis techniques. We examined data from 25 long-running seismic stations, along with 244 stations of the temporary USArray Transportable Array, located in the eastern, southeastern and western U.S. We identified 279 high-quality SKS-SKKS wave pairs that yielded well-constrained splitting intensity measurements for both phases. Of the 279 pairs, a relatively small number (15) exhibited discrepancies in splitting intensity of 0.4 s or greater, suggesting a contribution to the splitting of one or both phases from anisotropy in the lowermost mantle. Because only a small minority of SK(K)S phases examined in this study show evidence of being affected by lowermost mantle anisotropy, the traditional interpretation that splitting of these phases primarily reflects anisotropy in the upper mantle directly beneath the stations is appropriate. The discrepant pairs exhibited a striking geographic trend, sampling the lowermost mantle beneath the southern U.S. and northern Mexico, while other regions were dominated by non-discrepant pairs. We carried out ray theoretical modeling of simple anisotropy scenarios that have previously been suggested for the lowermost mantle beneath North America, invoking the alignment of post-perovskite due to flow induced by the impingement of the remnant Farallon slab on the core-mantle boundary. We found that our measurements are generally consistent with this model and with the idea of slab-driven flow, but relatively small-scale lateral variations in the strength and/or geometry of lowermost mantle anisotropy beneath North America are also likely present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106504
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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