Age dependence and anisotropy of surface-wave phase velocities in the Pacific

Celia L. Eddy, Göran Ekström, Meredith Nettles, James B. Gaherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We present new anisotropic phase-velocity maps of the Pacific basin for Rayleigh and Love waves between 25 and 250 s. The isotropic and anisotropic phase-velocity maps are obtained by inversion of a data set of single-station surface-wave phase-anomaly measurements recorded for paths crossing the Pacific basin. We develop an age-dependent gradient-damping scheme that allows us to reduce the amount of smoothness damping required in the inversion. The observed isotropic phase velocities have a strong age dependence, and our results are consistent with models of half-space cooling: simple phase-velocity models that depend only on seafloor age explain 40-97 per cent of the data variance for Love waves and 20-97 per cent for Rayleigh waves. These values represent a large fraction, ranging from 0.55 to 0.99, of the variance reduction of our best-fitting phase-velocity models. We find that 2ζ azimuthal anisotropy is required to fit our Rayleigh wave phase-anomaly data set but that our data do not require Love wave anisotropy. Rayleigh wave anisotropy also exhibits a clear age dependence, with a large decrease in the magnitude of 2ζ azimuthal anisotropy for seafloor older than 70 Ma that cannot be explained simply as a change in anisotropy direction between the lithosphere and asthenosphere. Long-period Rayleigh wave anisotropy directions align well overall with absolute-plate-motion directions, with a median angular misfit of 20° at 125 s. However, we observe large areas within the Pacific basin with a small but consistent offset of 10°-20° between the two directions. The disagreement between absolute plate motion and anisotropy for long-period waves suggests the presence of mantle flow beneath the base of the plate in a direction other than absolute plate motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-658
Number of pages19
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Pacific Ocean
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Seismic tomography
  • Surface waves and free oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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