Combined plate motion and density driven flow in the asthenosphere beneath Saudi Arabia: Evidence from shear-wave splitting and seismic anisotropy
Description: A comprehensive study of mantle anisotropy along the Red Sea and across Saudi Arabia was performed by analyzing shear-wave splitting recorded by stations from three different seismic networks: the largest, most widely distributed array of stations examined across Saudi Arabia to date. Stations near the Gulf of Aqaba display fast orientations that are aligned parallel to the Dead Sea Transform Fault, most likely related to the strike-slip motion between Africa and Arabia. However, most of our observations across Saudi Arabia are statistically the same, showing a consistent pattern of north-south oriented fast directions with delay times averaging about 1.4 s. Fossilized anisotropy related to the Proterozoic assembly of the Arabian Shield may contribute to the pattern but is not sufficient to fully explain the observations. We feel that the uniform anisotropic signature across Saudi Arabia is best explained by a combination of plate and density driven flow in the asthenosphere. By combining the northeast oriented flow associated with absolute plate motion with the northwest oriented flow associated with the channelized Afar plume along the Red Sea, we obtain a north-south oriented resultant that matches our splitting observations and supports models of active rifting processes. This explains why the north-south orientation of the fast polarization direction is so pervasive across the vast Arabian Plate.
Date: February 8, 2006
Creator: Hansen, S & Schwartz, S
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