Complex seismic anisotropy in Madagascar revealed by shear wave splitting measurements

Cristo Ramirez, Andrew Nyblade, Michael E. Wysession, Martin Pratt, Fenitra Andriampenomanana, Tsiriandrimanana Rakotondraibe

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11 Scopus citations


Shear wave fast polarization directions (Φ) and delay times (dt) obtained from SKS and SKKS splitting measurements are reported for 25 temporary and 2 permanent seismic stations distributed throughout Madagascar. Results show a complicated pattern of Φ that is not easily explained by a single source of anisotropy, such as fossil anisotropy in the lithosphere or mantle flow from the African superplume or absolute plate motion. To interpret the results, we divide the island into four areas. The northern part of the island is characterized by an ~ENE-WSW Φ pattern, which can be attributed to NE-oriented mantle flow from the African superplume or plate motion modified by SE-oriented mantle flow from the Comoros hotspot. In the centre of the island, a roughly circular Φ pattern is observed and can be attributed to upwelling asthenosphere, caused by lithospheric delamination, interacting with mantle flow from the superplume or plate motion. Small-scale mantle flow can also be invoked to explain a separate semi-circular Φ pattern in the southwestern part of the island. In the south-central and southeastern parts of the island, Φ is parallel to the NW strike of shear zones at many stations and can be attributed to fossil anisotropy in the lithosphere. However, NE-oriented fast polarization directions along the northern edge of this area do not align with the orientation of shear zones and could instead be part of the circular Φ pattern that characterizes the central part of the island.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1718-1727
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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