We used receiver functions to determine lateral variations in mantle transition zone thickness and sharpness of the 410- and 660-km discontinuities in the presence of subducting lithosphere. The mantle beneath the central Andes of South America provides an ideal study site owing to its long-lived subduction history and the availability of broadband seismic data from the dense BANJO/SEDA temporary networks and the permanent station LPAZ. For LPAZ, we analyzed 26 earthquakes between 1993-2003 and stacked the depth-migrated receiver functions. For temporary stations operating for only about one year (1994-1995), station stacks were not robust. We thus stacked receiver functions for close-by stations forming five groups that span the subduction zone from west to east, each containing 12 to 25 events. We found signal significant at the 2σ level for several station groups from P to S conversions that originate near 520- and 850-900 km depth, but most prominently from the 410- and 660-km discontinuities. For the latter, the P to S converted signal is clear in stacks for western groups and LPAZ, lack of coherent signal for two eastern groups is possibly due to incoherent stacking and does not necessitate the absence of converted energy. The thickness of the mantle transition zone increases progressively from a near-normal 255 km at the Pacific coast to about 295 km beneath station LPAZ in the Eastern Cordillera. Beneath LPAZ, the 410-km discontinuity appears elevated by nearly 40 km, thus thickening the transition zone. We compared signal amplitudes from receiver function stacks calculated at different low-pass frequencies to study frequency dependence and possibly associated discontinuity sharpness of the P to S converted signals. We found that both the 410- and 660-km discontinuities exhibit amplitude increase with decreasing frequency. Synthetic receiver function calculations for discontinuity topography mimicking observed topography show that the observed steep topography can adequately explain the observed frequency dependence. The large transition zone thickness beneath LPAZ can be explained by a ~300 K cooler slab or a mantle saturated with water (~1 wt %).
- Geology, Structural
- Hydrologic cycle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)