Seismic velocity and anisotropy of the uppermost mantle beneath Madagascar from Pn tomography

Fenitra Andriampenomanana, Andrew A. Nyblade, Michael E. Wysession, Raymond J. Durrheim, Frederik Tilmann, Guilhem Barruol, Gérard Rambolamanana, Tsiriandrimanana Rakotondraibe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lithosphere of Madagascar records a long series of tectonic processes. Structures initially inherited from the Pan-African Orogeny are overprinted by a series of extensional tectonic and magmatic events that began with the breakup of Gondwana and continued through to the present. Here, we present a Pn-tomography study in which Pn traveltimes are inverted to investigate the lateral variation of the seismic velocity and anisotropy within the uppermost mantle beneath Madagascar. Results show that the Pn velocities within the uppermost mantle vary by ±0.30 km s-1 about a mean of 8.10 km s-1. Low-Pn-velocity zones (<8.00 km s-1) are observed beneath the Cenozoic alkaline volcanic provinces in the northern and central regions. They correspond to thermally perturbed zones, where temperatures are estimated to be elevated by ∼100-300 K. Moderately low Pn velocities are found near the southern volcanic province and along an E-W belt in central Madagascar. This belt is located at the edge of a broader low S-velocity anomaly in the mantle imaged in a recent surface wave tomographic study. High-Pn-velocity zones (>8.20 km s-1) coincide with stable and less seismically active regions. The pattern of Pn anisotropy is very complex, with small-scale variations in both the amplitude and the fast-axis direction, and generally reflects the complicated tectonic history of Madagascar. Pn anisotropy and shear wave (SKS) splitting measurements show good correlations in the southern parts of Madagascar, indicating coherency in the vertical distribution of lithospheric deformation along Pan-African shear zone as well as coupling between the crust and mantle when the shear zones were active. In most other regions, discrepancies between Pn anisotropy and SKS measurements suggest that the seismic anisotropy in the uppermost mantle beneath Madagascar differs from the vertically integrated upper mantle anisotropy, implying a present-day vertical partitioning of the deformation. Pn anisotropy directions lack the coherent pattern expected for an incipient plate boundary within Madagascar proposed in some kinematic models of the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-305
Number of pages16
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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