Mapping Tectonic Deformation in the Crust and Upper Mantle Beneath Europe and the North Atlantic Ocean

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Science  08 Aug 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1241335

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We constructed a 3D azimuthally anisotropic model of Europe and the North Atlantic Ocean based on adjoint seismic tomography. Several features are well correlated with historical tectonic events in this region—for example, extension along the North Atlantic Ridge, trench retreat in the Mediterranean, and counter-clockwise rotation of the Anatolian Plate. Beneath northeastern Europe, the direction of the fast anisotropic axis follows trends of ancient rift systems older than 350 million years, suggesting “frozen-in” anisotropy related to the formation of the craton. Local anisotropic strength profiles identify the brittle-ductile transitions in lithospheric strength. In continental regions, these profiles also identify the lower crust, characterized by ductile flow. The observed anisotropic fabric is generally consistent with the current surface strain rate measured by geodetic surveys.

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