Seismic Anisotropy and Mantle Flow beneath the Baikal Rift Zone


SEISMIC studies have shown that continental rifts such as Lake Baikal and the Great Rift Valley of East Africa are like mid-ocean rifts in that they lie above broad regions of asthenospheric upwarp of much greater extent than the surface expression of rifting1-4. The direction of mantle flow in such regions can be investigated using the seismic anisotropy created by flow-induced orientation of mantle olivine crystals5-8. Seismic studies of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge have revealed upwelling mantle flow beneath the ridge and flow normal to the ridge axis on either side8-10. Here we present results from an array of seismic stations across the Baikal rift zone in southern Siberia. The splitting in arrival times of SKS seismic waves indicates that the upper mantle beneath the rift zone is anisotropic, with the fast direction (which reflects the direction of mantle flow) being horizontal and normal to the rift axis. This suggests that the broad upwarp associated with this continental rift is caused by similar mantle flow to that at mid-ocean rifts. This may help to elucidate the processes involved in continental rifting.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

mantle flow; rifting; seismic anisotropy; shear wave splitting; Russian Federation, Baikal Rift Zone

Geographic Coverage

East Africa

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Article - Journal

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© 1994 Nature Publishing Group, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 1994


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