ABSTRACT

Major structures within the mantle wedge are often revealed from seismic velocity anomalies, such as low‐velocity zones at magma reservoirs, partial melting regions, or the upwelling asthenosphere. However, no significant seismic boundaries have been reported in the shallow mantle wedge beneath volcanic arcs. Here, we present evidence for a strong seismic reflector dipping in the opposite direction of the subducting slab in the mantle wedge beneath northern Taiwan in the western end of the Ryukyu subduction system. We find that two unambiguous P waves generated by a deep earthquake (ML 5.1) at a depth of 132.5 km were clearly recorded by the dense seismic array (Formosa Array), composed of 140 broadband seismic stations with a station spacing of approximately 5 km in northern Taiwan. Forward modeling using both raytracing and travel times shows that a seismic reflector exists beneath the Tatun volcano group (TVG) around depths of 80–110 km. The reflector dips in the opposite direction of the subducting slab and is unlikely to be associated with mantle wedge corner flow. Instead, it probably belonged to parts of possible structures such as the asthenospheric flow, the mantle diapir, or other undiscovered structures above the subducting slab. No matter what the seismic boundary is exactly, it might be associated with the active volcanism in the TVG. The detailed geometry and mechanism of the seismic boundary in the mantle wedge will be obtained as the Formosa Array collects more seismic data in the near future.

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