Although long-lived detachment faulting plays an important role in fluid circulation and in accommodating tectonic extension at slow-spreading oceanic ridges, it is still unclear how the fluid-enriched faults contribute to the observed seismic anisotropy in the lower crust. We investigated sheared and altered gabbros along the detachment fault zones from the Xigaze ophiolite in the southern Tibetan Plateau. Results demonstrate that the positive feedback between fluid circulation and shearing, linked by dissolution-precipitation creep of amphibole, resulted in fluid enrichment during strain localization along the fault zones. Based on this shearing-enhanced fluid circulation model, our calculations of the seismic properties show that amphiboles (de)formed by dissolution-precipitation creep along the fault zones largely contribute to the seismic anisotropy (P and S waves) and S-wave delay time in the lower crust at slow-spreading ridges, with the polarization directions of fast shear waves being subparallel to the ridges. The strength of resulting seismic anisotropy is largely a function of crustal thickness, fault zone attitude, and metasomatism intensity. This study provides a novel explanation for the origin of seismic anisotropy in the lower oceanic crust at slow-spreading ridges. The conclusion may also have implications for the origin of seismic anisotropy at fast-spreading ridges where there are high melt supplies.

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