Group-velocity tomography and lithospheric S-velocity structure of the South American continent

Mei Feng, Marcelo Assumpção*, Suzan Van der Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The lithosphere of the South American continent has been studied little, especially in northern Brazil (the Amazonian region). A 3D lithospheric S-velocity model of South America was obtained by first carrying out Rayleigh and Love wave group-velocity tomography, and then inverting the regionalized dispersion curves. Fundamental mode group velocities were measured using a Multiple Filtering Technique. More than 12,000 paths were examined and about 6000 Rayleigh- and 3500 Love-wave dispersion curves with good quality were retrieved. Checkerboard tests showed that our dataset permits the resolution of features 400-800 km across laterally in the central part of the continent from crustal to upper mantle depths. Our results confirm previous tomographic results and correlate well with the major geological provinces of South America. The 3D S-velocity model confirms both regional features of SE Brazil from P-wave travel-time tomography and continental-scale features of central and western South America from waveform inversion, e.g., lowest velocities in the Andean upper mantle; three parts of the Nazca plate with flat subduction; strong low-velocity anomalies in the upper-mantle depth beneath the Chaco basin. Furthermore, our 3D model revealed new features in the South American continent: (1) high velocities in the lower crust were consistently found in regions with high Bouguer or free-air anomalies; (2) the NE-SW trending TransBrasiliano shear zone was delineated by a NE-SW low-velocity belt at lithospheric depths; (3) the eastern Amazonian craton appears to have thicker lithosphere than the western craton; (4) in areas of Archean nuclei located in the craton, high velocity anomalies were found down to 150 km.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-331
Number of pages17
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 15 2004


  • Group-velocity
  • Lithosphere
  • S-velocity
  • South American continent
  • Surface wave tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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