Seismic Evidence for Possible Slab Melting from Strong Scattering Waves

 

Abstract

Slab melting in young and hot subduction zones has been studied using geochemical observations and thermal modelling, but there are few data from seismic studies to confirm slab melting. Also the detailed geometry in the deep part of the melting slab is often ambiguous in that the intraslab earthquakes within the Wadati-Benioff zone are only limited to shallower depths. To improve our understanding of both the seismic features and geometry found in a young and hot subducted slab, I analyzed anomalous moonquake-like seismograms that were generated by an intermediate-depth earthquake recorded in central Japan. For this study, possible reflected (or scattered) sources were examined using detailed analyses of particle motions and a grid search for travel-time differences between the direct and later P-waves. The results show that using strong seismic scattering, slab melting is likely occurring in the deeper, flexing part of the subducted Philippine Sea plate. Because the subducted Philippine Sea plate in central Japan is young and therefore hot, partial melting might have taken place to produce abundant melting spots in the subducted slab. Melting spots, identified as ¡§bright spots,¡¨ could efficiently reflect or scatter seismic energy and generate many later phases with large amplitudes.

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