Seismic anisotropy and mantle deformation in NW Iran inferred from splitting measurements of SK(K)S and direct S phases

Shiva Arvin, Farhad Sobouti, Keith Priestley, Abdolreza Ghods, Khalil Motaghi, Frederik Tilmann, Tuna Eken

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8 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results of a shear wave splitting analysis performed on the teleseismic SK(K)S and direct S wave recordings of 68 temporary broad-band stations to investigate the mantle deformation on the northern side of the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone in NW Iran. We used the Reference Station Technique to overcome potential contamination from the source-side anisotropy on the direct S wave signals. This method enabled us to expand our splitting measurement database beyond the usual SK(K)S phases. The average splitting delay time over the entire region was found to be 1.14 ± 0.42 s for the SK(K)S wave and 1.36 ± 0.26 s for the direct S wave. In most parts of the study area, the fast polarization directions for both shear phases are consistent and show a uniform NE-SW direction with an average of 36° and 37° for SK(K)S and S wave-derived results, respectively. This direction is in close agreement with the direction of the absolute plate motion vector in NW Iran (N39°E). The fast directions are associated with neither the surface geological trends, nor the geodetic strain fields. We propose that the observed anisotropy is mainly controlled by the LPO fabric developed due to the shearing of the asthenospheric layer in response to the motion of the lithosphere relative to the deeper mantle. Only in a narrow region near the tectonic boundaries of central Iran with NW Iran and the Alborz, NW-SE oriented SK(K)S fast directions tend to align with the major geological structures. Fast directions obtained from direct S wave indicate significantly smoother variations in the same regions and mostly continue to be aligned in the NE-SW direction. We attribute these differences to the change in the structure of the lithosphere in the tectonic boundary zone. The western margins of central Iran possess a strong deformational fabric as evidenced by the major active strike-slip zones there. Considering that the depth extent of this fabric expands over a relatively narrow zone in the mantle, it can locally influence the SK(K)S phases. The direct S waves, on the other hand, have a larger footprint and therefore average over a larger region, and relative to the SK(K)S phases, are influenced more strongly by the asthenospheric fabric due to their larger angles of incidence, which results in a larger zone of influence for station average anisotropy parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1417-1431
Number of pages15
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society.


  • Continental tectonics: compressional
  • Dynamics of lithosphere and mantle
  • Seismic anisotropy


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