Abstract

The actively spreading Chile Ridge has been subducting beneath Patagonian Chile since the Middle Miocene. After subduction, continued separation of the faster Nazca plate from the slow Antarctic plate has opened up a gap—a slab window—between the subducted oceanic lithospheres beneath South America. We examined the form of the asthenospheric mantle flow in the vicinity of this slab window using S waves from six isolated, unusual 2007 earthquakes that occurred in the generally low-seismicity region just north of the ridge subduction region. The S waves from these earthquakes were recorded at distant seismic stations, but were split into fast and slow orthogonally polarized waves at upper mantle depths during their passage through the slab window and environs. We isolated the directions of fast split shear waves near the slab window by correcting for upper mantle seismic anisotropy at the distant stations. The results show that the generally trench-parallel upper mantle flow beneath the Nazca plate rotates to an ENE trend in the neighborhood of the slab gap, consistent with upper mantle flow from west to east through the slab window.

You do not currently have access to this article.