Seismic heterogeneous structure in the lowermost mantle beneath the southwestern Pacific

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Abstract

[1] The P and S wave velocity structure of the D″ layer beneath the southwestern Pacific was investigated by using short-period data from 12 deep events in the Tonga-Fiji region recorded by the J-Array and the Hi-net (two large-aperture seismic arrays) in Japan. Reflected wave beam forming (RWB) and a migration method were used to extract weak signals originating from heterogeneities in the lowermost mantle. In order to acquire high resolution a double-array method was applied to the data. The results of the RWB method indicate that seismic energy is reflected at discontinuities near the depths of 2520 and 2650 km, which have a negative P wave velocity contrast of 1% at the most. In addition, there is a positive seismic discontinuity at a depth of 2800 km. In the case of the S wave, reflected energy is produced almost at the same depth (2550 km depth). An apparent depth shift (50 km) of the discontinuity at the depth of 2850 km may indicate that the S wave velocity reduction in the lowermost mantle is ∼2–3 times stronger than that of P. A two-dimensional cross section, constructed with the RWB method, suggests that the observed discontinuities can be characterized as intermittent lateral heterogeneities whose lateral extent is a few hundred kilometers. The migration shows weak evidence of scattering objects which belong to the seismic discontinuities detected by the RWB method. These anomalous structures may represent a part of hot plume generated beneath the southwestern Pacific in the lowermost mantle.

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