Ambient noise tomography across the Central Andes

Kevin M. Ward, Ryan C. Porter, George Zandt, Susan L. Beck, Lara S. Wagner, Estela Minaya, Hernando Tavera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


The Central Andes of southern Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile (between 12°S and 42°S) comprise the largest orogenic plateau in the world associated with abundant arc volcanism, the Central Andean Plateau, as well as multiple segments of flat-slab subduction making this part of the Earth a unique place to study various aspects of active plate tectonics. The goal of this continental-scale ambient noise tomography study is to incorporate broad-band seismic data from 20 seismic networks deployed incrementally in the Central Andes from 1994 May to 2012 August, to image the vertically polarized shear wave velocity (Vsv) structure of the South American Cordillera. Using dispersion measurements calculated from the cross-correlation of 330 broad-band seismic stations, we construct Rayleigh wave phase velocity maps in the period range of 8-40 s and invert these for the shear wave velocity (Vsv) structure of the Andean crust. We provide a dispersion misfit map as well as uncertainty envelopes for our Vsv model and observe striking first-order correlations with our shallow results (~5 km) and the morphotectonic provinces as well as subtler geological features indicating our results are robust. Our results reveal for the first time the full extent of the mid-crustal Andean lowvelocity zone that we tentatively interpret as the signature of a very large volume Neogene batholith. This study demonstrates the efficacy of integrating seismic data from numerous regional broad-band seismic networks to approximate the high-resolution coverage previously only available though larger networks such as the EarthScope USArray Transportable Array in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1573
Number of pages15
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Crustal structure
  • Interferometry
  • Seismic tomography
  • South America
  • Surface waves and free oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ambient noise tomography across the Central Andes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this