Here we use SKS shear wave splitting observations from ocean-bottom seismometer data to infer patterns of mantle deformation beneath the Juan de Fuca plate and its adjoining boundaries. Our results indicate that the asthenosphere beneath the Juan de Fuca plate responds largely to absolute plate motion with an anisotropic layer developing rapidly near the ridge and persisting into the subduction zone. Geographically restricted deviations from this pattern indicate the presence of secondary processes. At discrete plate boundaries, such as the Blanco transform fault, seismic anisotropy is attributed to relative plate motion within a narrow zone (<50 km). Beneath the deforming southern Gorda plate region—a diffuse plate boundary—splitting observations similarly suggest deformation dominated by relative motion between the rigid Juan de Fuca and Pacific plates but distributed over a broad zone (∼200 km). Our results are inconsistent with toroidal flow around the southern edge of the subducting slab due to rollback, as suggested by onshore studies. Instead, reorganization of upper mantle flow associated with plate fragmentation seems to dominate the anisotropic signature of southern Cascadia.

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