S velocity structure and radial anisotropy in the Aegean region from surface wave dispersion


*Now at: Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, Geophysics Section, 5 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.


The lithospheric structure of the Aegean region is investigated by analysis of Rayleigh-wave fundamental mode dispersion measurements. Isotropic 1-D models for almost 100 two-station ray paths across the region display distinct variations in the Moho depth and crustal S-wave velocities. The descending slab of the subducting African plate can be resolved down to 120 km depth beneath the volcanic arc. Three different regions are distinguished in terms of Moho depth: (1) The forearc, with large crustal thicknesses between 38 and 48 km and an average of 43 km, (2) the northern Aegean, with an average Moho depth of 28 km and (3) the southern Aegean (central volcanic arc, i.e. Cyclades, and Sea of Crete) with an even thinner crust of around 25 km. Lateral variations in structure between 25 and 55 km depth indicate a marked difference between the western and eastern forearc, collocated with pronounced changes in trench and slab geometry as well as published deformation rates. S velocities between 25 and 55 km depth are low everywhere beneath the forearc but increase from the Peleponnesus to Crete. An abrupt change occurs between western and central Crete in terms of the visibility of the Aegean Moho and the seismic structure of the lithospheric mantle wedge: An Aegean mantle wedge with S velocities above 4.4 km s−1 is only observed to the east of central Crete, whereas to the west velocities of less than 4.0 km s−1 occur down to the plate contact. These low velocities above the slab may indicate the presence of a melange of metamorphic rocks at the depths. A low-velocity asthenospheric layer is observed beneath the Sea of Crete and the Cyclades below 40 km depth, between the thinned lithosphere above and the slab below. The observed radial anisotropy in the northern part of the Aegean is likely to be due to preferred orientation of anisotropic minerals within the lower crust, possibly caused by lateral ductile flow associated with recent lithospheric extension.