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Type: Journal article
Title: Resistance to mantle flow inferred from the electromagnetic strike of the Australian upper mantle
Author: Simpson, Fiona
Citation: Nature, 2001; 412(6847):632-635
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Issue Date: 2001
ISSN: 0028-0836
School/Discipline: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Abstract: Seismic anisotropy is thought to result from the strain-induced lattice-preferred orientation of mantle minerals, especially olivine, owing to shear waves propagating faster along the a-axis of olivine crystals than along the other axes. This anisotropy results in birefringence, or 'shear-wave splitting', which has been investigated in numerous studies. Although olivine is also anisotropic with respect to electrical conductivity (with the a-axis being most conductive), few studies of the electrical anisotropy of the upper mantle have been undertaken, and these have been limited to relatively shallow depths in the lithospheric upper mantle. Theoretical models of mantle flow have been used to infer that, for progressive simple shear imparted by the motion of an overriding tectonic plate, the a-axes of olivine crystals should align themselves parallel to the direction of plate motion. Here, however, we show that a significant discrepancy exists between the electromagnetic strike of the mantle below Australia and the direction of present-day absolute plate motion. We infer from this discrepancy that the a-axes of olivine crystals are not aligned with the direction of the present-day plate motion of Australia, indicating resistance to deformation of the mantle by plate motion.
DOI: 10.1038/35088051
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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