Seismic anisotropy beneath Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, revealed by shear wave splitting



Shear wave splitting analyses have been carried out using teleseismic data from broad-band seismograph stations deployed at temporary and permanent locations in Dronning Maud Land (DML), Antarctica. In most cases, the observed anisotropy can be related to major tectonic events that formed the present-day Antarctic continent. We rule out an anisotropic contribution from recent asthenospheric flow. At the Russian base Novolazarevskaya near the coast in central DML, waveform inversion suggests a two-layer model where the fast direction of the upper layer is oriented parallel to Archean fabrics in the lithosphere, whereas the anisotropy of the lower layer is interpreted to have been created during the Jurassic Gondwana break-up. Recordings at the South African base Sanae IV, however, show enigmatic results. For narrow backazimuthal segments, splitting parameters show strong variations together with a multitude of isotropic measurements, indicative of complex scattering that cannot be explained by simple one- or two-layer anisotropic models. In the interior of the continent, the data are consistent with single-layer anisotropy, but show significant spatial variations in splitting parameters. A set of temporary stations across the Heimefront shear zone in western DML yield splitting directions that we interpret as frozen anisotropy from Proterozoic assembly of the craton. An abrupt change in fast axis direction appears to mark a suture between the Grunehogna craton, a fragment of the Kalahari–Kaapvaal craton in southern Africa and the Mesoproterozoic Maudheim Province.