Confal et al., “Reproducing complex anisotropy patterns at subduction zones from splitting intensity analysis and anisotropy tomography.”

Published on JGI

August 2023

Cite: onfal, J., Baccheschi, P., Pondrelli, S., Karakostas, F., VanderBeek, B., Huang, Z., Faccenda, M.,
2023. “Reproducing complex anisotropy patterns at subduction zones from splitting intensity analysis
and anisotropy tomography.” Geophysical Journal International, 2023, ggad329,


Measurements of seismic anisotropy provide a lot of information on the deformation and structure as well as flows of the Earth’s interior, in particular of the upper mantle. Even though the strong and heterogeneous seismic anisotropic nature of the upper mantle has been demonstrated by a wealth of theoretical and observational approaches , most of standard teleseismic body-wave tomography studies overlook P- and S-wave anisotropy, thus producing artefacts in tomographic models in terms of amplitude and localization of heterogeneities. Conventional methods of seismic anisotropy measurement have their limitations regarding lateral and mainly depth resolution. To overcome this problem much effort has been done to develop tomographic methods to invert shear wave splitting data for anisotropic structures, based on finite-frequency sensitivity kernels that relate model perturbations to splitting observations. A promising approach to image the upper mantle anisotropy is the inversion of splitting intensity (SI). This seismic observable is a measure of the amount of energy on the transverse component waveform and, to a first order, it is linearly related to the elastic perturbations of the medium through the 3D sensitivity kernels, that can be therefore inverted, allowing a high-resolution image of the upper mantle anisotropy. Here we present an application of the splitting intensity tomography to a synthetic subduction setting. Starting from synthetic SKS waveforms, we first derived high-quality SKS splitting intensity measurements; then we used the splitting intensity data as input into tomographic inversion. This approach enables high‐resolution tomographic images of upper‐mantle anisotropy through recovering vertical and lateral changes in anisotropy and represents a propaedeutic step to the real cases of subduction settings. Additionally this study was able to detect regions of strong dipping anisotropy by allowing a 360° periodic dependence of the splitting vector.

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