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Continuous Deformation Versus Faulting Through the Continental Lithosphere of New Zealand

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Science  15 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5439, pp. 516-519
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5439.516

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Abstract

Seismic anisotropy and P-wave delays in New Zealand imply widespread deformation in the underlying mantle, not slip on a narrow fault zone, which is characteristic of plate boundaries in oceanic regions. Large magnitudes of shear-wave splitting and orientations of fast polarization parallel to the Alpine fault show that pervasive simple shear of the mantle lithosphere has accommodated the cumulative strike-slip plate motion. Variations inP-wave residuals across the Southern Alps rule out underthrusting of one slab of mantle lithosphere beneath another but permit continuous deformation of lithosphere shortened by about 100 kilometers since 6 to 7 million years ago.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: molnar{at}chandler.mit.edu

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