Seismic anisotropy in the continental crust of northwestern Canada

Colleen A. Dalton, James B. Gaherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Most studies of the seismic structure of continental crust assume that the wave speeds are isotropic at seismic wavelengths. The ability to measure surface wave propagation speed from the cross-correlation of ambient seismic noise provides new opportunities to image the crust and uppermost mantle.We investigate radial anisotropy in the continental crust of northwestern Canada from group-velocity curves of Love and Rayleigh waves obtained from ambient-noise cross-correlation. We test the null hypothesis that the Love and Rayleigh group-speed curves can be simultaneously fit by an earth model containing isotropic seismic velocities throughout the crust. Group velocity is predicted for 200 000 one-dimensional earth models, which are generated by randomly varying the crustal shear velocity and radial anisotropy within a prescribed range. The goodness-of-fit of the predictions is assessed by comparison with two sets of observed dispersion curves that correspond to two tectonically distinct terranes: the Archean/early Proterozoic craton and the transition from craton to Cordillera. The majority of best-fitting models contain VSH > VSV (4-5 per cent) in the middle crust. The finding that the middle/lower crust is seismically anisotropic across a large swath of northwestern Canada, combined with recent observations of anisotropic crust in much of the western United States, suggests that anisotropy may be ubiquitous in the continental crust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-348
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Crustal structure
  • North America
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Surface waves and free oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Seismic anisotropy in the continental crust of northwestern Canada'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this