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    Upper mantle anisotropy beneath the Seychelles microcontinent

    Hammond, James O.S. and Kendall, J.-M. and Rümpker, G. and Wookey, J. and Teanby, N. and Joseph, P. and Ryberg, T. and Stuart, G. (2005) Upper mantle anisotropy beneath the Seychelles microcontinent. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 110 (B11), ISSN 0148-0227.

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    Abstract

    [1] The Seychelles plateau is a prime example of a microcontinent, yet mechanisms for its creation and evolution are poorly understood. Recently acquired teleseismic data from a deployment of 26 stations on 18 islands in the Seychelles are analyzed to study upper mantle seismic anisotropy using SKS splitting results. Strong microseismic noise is attenuated using a polarization filter. Results show significant variation in time delays (δt = 0.4–2.4 s) and smooth variations in orientation (ϕ = 15°–69°, where ϕ is the polarization of the fast shear wave). The splitting results cannot be explained by simple asthenospheric flow associated with absolute plate motions. Recent work has suggested that anisotropy measurements for oceanic islands surrounding Africa can be explained by mantle flow due to plate motion in combination with density-driven flow associated with the African superswell. Such a mechanism explains our results only if there are lateral variations in the viscosity of the mantle. It has been suggested that the Seychelles are underlain by a mantle plume. Predictions of flow-induced anisotropy from plume-lithosphere interaction can explain our results with a plume possibly impinging beneath the plateau. Finally, we consider lithospheric anisotropy associated with rifting processes that formed the Seychelles. The large variation in the magnitude of shear wave splitting over short distances suggests a shallow source of anisotropy. Fast directions align parallel to an area of transform faulting in the Amirantes. Farther from this area the orientation of anisotropy aligns in similar directions as plate motions. This supports suggestions of transpressive deformation during the opening of the Mascarene basin.

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