Review

Seismic Anisotropy: Tracing Plate Dynamics in the Mantle

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Science  19 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5567, pp. 485-489
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067319

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Abstract

Elastic anisotropy is present where the speed of a seismic wave depends on its direction. In Earth's mantle, elastic anisotropy is induced by minerals that are preferentially oriented in a directional flow or deformation. Earthquakes generate two seismic wave types: compressional (P) and shear (S) waves, whose coupling in anisotropic rocks leads to scattering, birefringence, and waves with hybrid polarizations. This varied behavior is helping geophysicists explore rock textures within Earth's mantle and crust, map present-day upper-mantle convection, and study the formation of lithospheric plates and the accretion of continents in Earth history.

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