Seismic Anisotropy of the Upper Mantle: 1. Factors That Affect Mineral Texture and Effective Elastic Properties

Abstract

Flow induced mineral alignment in the Earth s mantle affects the nature of seismic wave propagation. Since measurements of seismic travel-time and shear wave splitting are a key means by which the structure of the upper mantle can be imaged, it is important to understand the factors that contribute to variability in elastic properties. Seismic anisotropy associated with lattice preferred orientations of minerals in peridotite is the focus of this study. One way to better understand anisotropy in a convecting upper mantle is to simulate texture evolution based on certain assumptions. Simulations of the development of olivine and orthopyroxene alignment along streamlines of a mantle flow field illustrate how continuously varying strain conditions affect the resulting orientation distribution. There are various uncertainties in rock texture simulations, and the aim here is to investigate how much model assumptions may influence the results. A model of upper mantle flow in the vicinity of an oceanic spreading center is used to illustrate these points. First, we assess how sensitive results are on assumptions of different polycrystal plasticity models, specifically lower bounds and viscoplastic self-consistent approaches. We also investigate how recrystallization during deformation might affect the texture that develops along a streamline. The effects of grain growth and nucleation produce, as expected, textures that are different from the deformationonly case. However, the basic P-wave structure of the predicted anisotropy is similar between models for streamlines in a slow-spreading, passive flow model as is commonly used for simulating flow near this type of plate boundary. Shear wave splitting patterns are more complex and differ somewhat more between the models in the off-axis region. We also compare predictions for texture development of olivine-only aggregates to that of mixed composition with 70% olivine and 30% orthopyroxene. Although we consider only one aspect of such polyphase deformation, i.e. plastic deformation on specified crystal slip systems, our results are consistent with field observations of the orientation distributions in ophiolitic peridotites. Finally, we determine how simplifying assumptions about the symmetry of the elastic anisotropy can bias interpretations of seismic travel time and shearwave splitting. Whereas a hexagonal approximation can lead to underestimates of the degree of anisotropy, an orthorhombic approximation is found to closely match the results predicted for a general elastic tensor corresponding to an orientation distribution whose symmetry is as low as monoclinic or triclinic.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Blackman2002SeismicAO, title={Seismic Anisotropy of the Upper Mantle: 1. Factors That Affect Mineral Texture and Effective Elastic Properties}, author={Donna Kay Blackman and H. Wenk and J I Kendall}, year={2002} }