A Joint Inversion for Velocity and Anisotropy Structure Beneath a Highly Extended Continental Rift

Friday, 19 December 2014: 5:15 PM
Zach Eilon1, Geoffrey A Abers2, James B Gaherty1 and Ge Jin1, (1)Columbia University in the City of New York, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, (2)Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
We jointly invert body wave travel times for anisotropy and velocity variations within the Woodlark Rift, Papua New Guinea, one of the youngest (≤6Ma) and most highly-extended (≤190km) continental rifts known. We use data from the CDPapua passive seismic array deployed around the D’Entrecasteaux Islands; these islands lie within the maximally-thinned continental crust at the centre of the rift and host the world’s youngest (5 - 7 Ma) UHP rocks. We have previously used SK(K)S splitting to identify strong anisotropy within this rift, with fast axis orientated parallel to extension, roughly N-S. Consistency of splitting direction across station, back azimuth and method of analysis indicates a simple anisotropic fabric beneath much of this region. Consequently, we simplify the anisotropic inversion by solving for perturbations to N-S and E-W shear velocities at each node. This work builds on our previous isotropic tomographic study by resolving tradeoffs between anisotropy and velocity heterogeneities. We cross-correlate shear wave arrivals separately on N-S and E-W components, using the Christoffel equations to show that the travel times of these orthogonal quasi-shear pulses distinctly record the fast and slow velocities within our model. We invert these data for velocities on an irregular mesh, using a finite frequency approach with a first fresnel zone approximation. Preliminary results identify the locus of the rift beneath the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, and demonstrate that substantial anisotropy is present beneath the region of major extension. This anisotropy is co-located with low seismic velocities that indicate almost total removal of lithosphere, consistent with gravity fitting. Therefore, we ascribe the anisotropy within the rift to LPO of highly sheared asthenospheric mantle as a result of the large magnitude of extension.