AbstractsEarth & Environmental Science

Seismic anisotropy and mantle flow beneath Africa and Arabia

by Ahmed Abdalla Elsheikh

Institution: Missouri University of Science and Technology
Year: 2014
Record ID: 2025794
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/43402


"In spite of numerous studies, the mechanisms for the rifting, uplifting, and volcanism on the African plate remain enigmatic. The most popular hypotheses proposed for explaining these tectonic phenomena involve edge-driven small-scale mantle convection and the thermal or dynamic effects of one or more mantle plumes. In this study we use continental scale shear-wave splitting (SWS) measurements to provide additional constraints on the various models of rifting, uplifting, and volcanism of the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL) and the Arabian plate. The splitting of P-to-S converted phases at the core-mantle boundary on the receiver side (XKS including PKS, SKKS, and SKS) is one of the most effective approaches to constrain convective mantle flow patterns. A robust procedure involving automatic and manual batch processing to reliably assess and objectively rank shear-wave splitting parameters were used. The resulting 1532 pairs of splitting parameters show a NNE dominated fast direction. Spatial distribution of the splitting parameters in the CVL and Arabia is not consistent with the edge-driven small-scale mantle convection hypothesis, the mantle plume hypothesis, fossil fabrics formed by past tectonic events, or the fabric-forming process due to the absolute plate motion relative to the deep mantle. The research suggests that the progressive thinning of the lithosphere through basal erosion by the flow leads to decompression melting is responsible for the formation of the CVL, and olivine lattice preferred orientation in the upper asthenosphere associated with the northward motion of the African plate since 150 Ma, most likely causes the observed anisotropy across the Red Sea." – Abstract, page iv.