The 410 and 660 km discontinuities (d410 and d660, respectively) beneath Alaska and adjacent areas are imaged by stacking 75,296 radial receiver functions recorded by 438 broadband seismic stations with up to 30 years of recording period. When the 1-D IASP91 Earth model is used for moveout correction and time depth conversion, significant and spatially systematic variations in the apparent depths of the d410 and d660 are observed. The mean apparent depth of the d410 and d660 for the entire study area is 417 ± 12 km and 665 ± 12 km, respectively, and the mean mantle transition zone (MTZ) thickness is 248 ± 8 km which is statistically identical to the global average. For most of the areas, the undulations of the apparent depths of the d410 and d660 are highly correlated, indicating that lateral velocity variations in the upper mantle above the d410 contribute to the bulk of the observed apparent depth variations by affecting the traveltimes of the P-to-S converted phases from both discontinuities. Beneath central Alaska, a broad zone with greater than normal MTZ thicknesses and shallower than normal d410 is imaged, implying that the subducting Pacific slab has reached the MTZ and is fragmented or significantly thickened. Within the proposed Northern Cordilleran slab window, an overall thinner than normal MTZ is observed and is most likely the result of a depressed d410. This observation, when combined with results from seismic tomography investigations, may indicate advective thermal upwelling from the upper MTZ through the slab window.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


The study was partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under award 1460516.

Keywords and Phrases

Alaska; Aleutian Trench; Mantle transition zone; Pacific Plate; Slab window; Yakutat Plate

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2169-9356; 2169-9313

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2017 American Geophysical Union (AGU), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2017

Included in

Geology Commons