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Shear wave velocities in the upper mantle of the Western Alps: new constraints using array analysis of seismic surface waves

Abstract : It remains challenging to obtain absolute shear wave velocities of heterogeneities of small lateral extension in the uppermost mantle. This study presents a cross-section of Vs across the strongly heterogeneous 3-D structure of the western European Alps, based on array analysis of data from 92 broad-band seismic stations from the CIFALPS experiment and from permanent networks in France and Italy. Half of the stations were located along a dense sublinear array. Using a combination of these stations and off-profile stations, fundamental-mode Rayleigh wave dispersion curves were calculated using a combined frequency-time beamforming approach. We calculated dispersion curves for seven arrays of approximately 100 km aperture and 14 arrays of approximately 50 km aperture, the latter with the aim of obtaining a 2-D vertical cross-section of Vs beneath the western Alps. The dispersion curves were inverted for Vs(z), with crustal interfaces imposed from a previous receiver function study. The array approach proved feasible, as Vs(z) from independent arrays vary smoothly across the profile length. Results from the seven large arrays show that the shear velocity of the upper mantle beneath the European plate is overall low compared to AK135 with the lowest velocities in the internal part of the western Alps, and higher velocities east of the Alps beneath the Po plain. The 2-D Vs model is coherent with (i) a ∼100 km thick eastward-dipping European lithosphere west of the Alps, (ii) very high velocities beneath the Po plain, coherent with the presence of the Alpine (European) slab and (iii) a narrow low-velocity anomaly beneath the core of the western Alps (from the Briançonnais to the Dora Maira massif), and approximately colocated with a similar anomaly observed in a recent teleseismic P-wave tomography. This intriguing anomaly is also supported by traveltime variations of subvertically propagating body waves from two teleseismic events that are approximately located on the profile great circle.
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Chao Lyu, Helle Pedersen, Anne Paul, Liang Zhao, Stefano Solarino, et al.. Shear wave velocities in the upper mantle of the Western Alps: new constraints using array analysis of seismic surface waves. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2017, 210 (1), pp.321-331. ⟨10.1093/gji/ggx166⟩. ⟨insu-02124425⟩

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