Abstract

We present new tomographic models of the Nazca slab under South America from 6°S to 32°S, and from 95 km to lower mantle (895 km) depths. By combining data from 14 separate networks in the central Andes, we use finite-frequency teleseismic P-wave tomography to image the Nazca slab from the upper mantle into the mantle transition zone (MTZ) and the uppermost lower mantle on a regional scale. Our tomography shows that there is significant along-strike variation in the morphology of the Nazca slab in the MTZ and the lower mantle. Thickening of the slab in the MTZ is observed north of the Bolivian orocline, possibly related to buckling or folding of the slab in response to the penetration of a near-vertical slab into the higher-viscosity lower mantle, which decreases the sinking velocity of the slab. South of the orocline, the slab continues into the lower mantle with only minor deformation in the MTZ. In the lower mantle, a similar difference in morphology is observed. North of 16°S, the slab anomaly in the lower mantle is more coherent and penetrates more steeply into the lower mantle. To the south, the slab dip appears to be decreasing just below the 660 km discontinuity. This change in slab morphology in the MTZ and lower mantle appears to correspond to the change in the dip of the slab as it enters the MTZ, from steeply dipping in the north to more moderately dipping in the south.

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