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Seismic anisotropy reveals crustal flow driven by mantle vertical loading in the Pacific NW

Castellanos, Jorge C. and Perry-Houts, Jonathan and Clayton, Robert W. and Kim, YoungHee and Stanciu, A. Christian and Niday, Bart and Humphreys, Eugene (2020) Seismic anisotropy reveals crustal flow driven by mantle vertical loading in the Pacific NW. Science Advances, 6 (28). Art. No. eabb0476. ISSN 2375-2548. PMCID PMC7439309. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abb0476.

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Buoyancy anomalies within Earth’s mantle create large convective currents that are thought to control the evolution of the lithosphere. While tectonic plate motions provide evidence for this relation, the mechanism by which mantle processes influence near-surface tectonics remains elusive. Here, we present an azimuthal anisotropy model for the Pacific Northwest crust that strongly correlates with high-velocity structures in the underlying mantle but shows no association with the regional mantle flow field. We suggest that the crustal anisotropy is decoupled from horizontal basal tractions and, instead, created by upper mantle vertical loading, which generates pressure gradients that drive channelized flow in the mid-lower crust. We then demonstrate the interplay between mantle heterogeneities and lithosphere dynamics by predicting the viscous crustal flow that is driven by local buoyancy sources within the upper mantle. Our findings reveal how mantle vertical load distribution can actively control crustal deformation on a scale of several hundred kilometers.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle Information
Castellanos, Jorge C.0000-0002-0103-6430
Perry-Houts, Jonathan0000-0002-3652-6202
Clayton, Robert W.0000-0003-3323-3508
Kim, YoungHee0000-0002-1111-632X
Stanciu, A. Christian0000-0002-8768-2432
Niday, Bart0000-0003-3743-1392
Humphreys, Eugene0000-0002-1916-8378
Additional Information:© 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). Submitted 25 January 2020; Accepted 26 May 2020; Published 8 July 2020. We thank P. Ryan and R. Guy for help in deploying the Wallowa2 array. We thank S. King and an anonymous reviewer for the careful and constructive suggestions. We also thank F.-C. Lin for providing us with the crustal anisotropy measurements for California. Y.K. acknowledges support from the Creative Pioneering Researchers Program of Seoul National University (SNU SRnD 3345-20160014). The figures presented in this paper were made using the Generic Mapping Tools version 4.5.9 ( We used HC 1.0.5 (50, 57–59) published under the GPL2 license. This project was supported by NSF/EAR 1546635 and 1547594. Author contributions: J.C.C. produced the anisotropy results and cowrote the paper. J.P.-H. modeled the coupling between mantle and crust and cowrote the paper. Y.K., A.C.S., and B.N. synthesized the receiver functions, seismic tomography, and SKS results. R.W.C. and E.H. conceptualized the project and edited the paper. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and the preparation of the manuscript for publication. The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: The project used data from High Lava Plains, IDOR, Wallowa, and Wallowa2 surveys, along with data from the T.A. (Transportable Array) from EarthScope. All data are available from the IRIS-DMC ( All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Issue or Number:28
PubMed Central ID:PMC7439309
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200709-101235393
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Official Citation:J. C. Castellanos, J. Perry-Houts, R. W. Clayton, Y. Kim, A. C. Stanciu, B. Niday, E. Humphreys, Seismic anisotropy reveals crustal flow driven by mantle vertical loading in the Pacific NW. Sci. Adv. 6, eabb0476 (2020); doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abb0476
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104309
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Jul 2020 17:33
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:30

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