Dislocation Damping and Anisotropic Seismic Wave Attenuation in Earth's Upper Mantle

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Science  20 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6079, pp. 332-335
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218318

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Crystal defects form during tectonic deformation and are reactivated by the shear stress associated with passing seismic waves. Although these defects, known as dislocations, potentially contribute to the attenuation of seismic waves in Earth’s upper mantle, evidence for dislocation damping from laboratory studies has been circumstantial. We experimentally determined the shear modulus and associated strain-energy dissipation in pre-deformed synthetic olivine aggregates under high pressures and temperatures. Enhanced high-temperature background dissipation occurred in specimens pre-deformed by dislocation creep in either compression or torsion, the enhancement being greater for prior deformation in torsion. These observations suggest the possibility of anisotropic attenuation in relatively coarse-grained rocks where olivine is or was deformed at relatively high stress by dislocation creep in Earth’s upper mantle.

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