Receiver function mapping of mantle transition zone discontinuities beneath Alaska using scaled 3-D velocity corrections
The mantle transition zone is the region between the globally observed major seismic velocity discontinuities around depths of 410 and 660 km and is important for determining the style of convection and mixing between the upper and the lower mantle. In this study, P-to-S converted waves, or receiver functions, are used to study these discontinuities beneath the Alaskan subduction zone, where the Pacific plate subducts underneath the North American plate. Previous tomographic models do not agree
... on the depth extent of the subducting slab, therefore improved imaging of the Earth structure underneath Alaska is required. We use 27,800 high quality radial receiver functions to make common conversion point stacks. Upper mantle velocity anomalies are accounted for by two recently published regional tomographic S-wave velocity models. Using these two tomographic models, we show that the discontinuity depths within our CCP stacks are highly dependent on the choice of velocity model, between which velocity anomaly magnitudes vary greatly. We design a quantitative test to show whether the anomalies in the velocity models are too strong or too weak, leading to over-or under-corrected discontinuity depths. We also show how this test can be used to rescale the 3D velocity corrections in order to improve the discontinuity topography maps. After applying the appropriate corrections, we find a localised thicker mantle transition zone 2 Van Stiphout, Cottaar & Deuss and an uplifted 410 discontinuity, which show that the slab has clearly penetrated into the mantle transition zone. Little topography is seen on the 660 discontinuity, indicating that the slab has probably not reached the lower mantle. In the southwest, P410s arrivals have very small amplitudes or no significant arrival at all. This could be caused by water or basalt in the subducting slab, reducing the strength at the 410, or by topography on the 410 discontinuity, preventing coherent stacking. In the southeast of Alaska, a thinner mantle transition zone is observed. This area corresponds to the location of a slab window, and thinning of the mantle transition zone may be caused by hot mantle upwellings.