P and S velocity structure of the upper mantle beneath the Transantarctic Mountains, East Antarctic craton, and Ross Sea from travel time tomography

Timothy Watson, Andrew Nyblade, Douglas A. Wiens, Sridhar Anandakrishnan, Margaret Benoit, Patrick J. Shore, Donald Voigt, John VanDecar

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P and S wave travel times from teleseismic earthquakes recorded by the Transantarctic Mountains Seismic Experiment (TAMSEIS) have been used to tomographically image upper mantle structure beneath portions of the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM), the East Antarctic (EA) craton, and the West Antarctic rift system (WARS) in the vicinity of Ross Island, Antarctica. The TAM form a major tectonic boundary that divides the stable EA craton and the tectonically active WARS. Relative arrival times were determined using a multichannel cross-correlation technique on teleseismic P and S phases from earthquakes with mb ≥ 5.5. 3934 P waves were used from 322 events, and 2244 S waves were used from 168 events. Relative travel time residuals were inverted for upper mantle structure using VanDecar's method. The P wave tomography model reveals a low-velocity anomaly in the upper mantle of approximately δVp =- 1 to- 1.5% in the vicinity of Ross Island extending laterally 50 to 100 km beneath the TAM from the coast, placing the contact between regions of fast and slow velocities well inland from the coast beneath the TAM. The magnitude of the low-velocity anomaly in the P wave model appears to diminish beneath the TAM to the north and south of Ross Island. The depth extent of the low-velocity anomaly is not well constrained, but it probably is confined to depths above ∼200 km. The S wave model, within resolution limits, is consistent with the P wave model. The low-velocity anomaly within the upper mantle can be attributed to a 200-300 K thermal anomaly, consistent with estimates obtained from seismic attenuation measurements. The presence of a thermal anomaly of this magnitude supports models invoking a thermal buoyancy contribution to flexurally driven TAM uplift, at least in the Ross Island region of the TAM. Because the magnitude of the anomaly to the north and south of Ross Island may diminish, the thermal contribution to the uplift of the TAM could be variable along strike, with the largest contribution in the Ross Island region. The tomography results reveal faster than average velocities beneath East Antarctica, as expected for cratonic upper mantle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ07005
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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