Interactions of multi-scale heterogeneity in the lithosphere: Australia




Kennett, B. L. N.
Yoshizawa, K.
Furumura, T.

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Understanding the complex heterogeneity of the continental lithosphere involves a wide variety of spatial scales and the synthesis of multiple classes of information. Seismic surface waves and multiply reflected body waves provide the main constraints on broad-scale structure, and bounds on the extent of the lithosphere-asthenosphere transition (LAT) can be found from the vertical gradients of S wavespeed. Information on finer-scale structures comes through body wave studies, including detailed seismic tomography and P-wave reflectivity extracted from stacked autocorrelograms of continuous component records. With the inclusion of deterministic large-scale structure and realistic medium-scale stochastic features fine-scale variations are subdued. The resulting multi-scale heterogeneity model for the Australian region gives a good representation of the character of observed seismograms and their geographic variations and matches the observations of P-wave reflectivity. P reflections in the 0.5–3.0 Hz band in the uppermost mantle suggest variations on vertical scales of a few hundred metres with amplitudes of the order of 1%. Interference of waves reflected or converted at sequences of such modest variations in physical properties produce relatively simple behaviour for lower frequencies, which can suggest simpler structures than are actually present. Vertical changes in the character of fine-scale heterogeneity can produce apparent discontinuities. In Central Australia a ‘mid-lithospheric discontinuity’ can be tracked via changes in frequency content of station reflectivity, with links to the broad-scale pattern of wavespeed gradients and, in particular, the gradients of radial anisotropy. Comparisons with xenolith results from southeastern Australia indicate a strong tie between geochemical stratification and P-wave reflectivity.



Multi-scale heterogeneity, Lithosphere-asthenosphere transition, Lithospheric reflectivity, Fine-scale structure, Radial anisotropy





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