Seismic, Structural and Petrological Models of the Subcrustal Lithosphere in Southern Germany: A Quantitative Revaluation
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—Anisotropy in the subcontinental lithosphere becomes increasingly important, because it is observed in many seismic studies especially for Pn-waves. Typical rocks of the uppermost mantle are peridotites, which predominantly exhibit a pronounced elastic anisotropy. This anisotropy is mainly caused by the anisotropic elastic properties and the lattice preferred orientation (here referred to as texture) of olivine. To evaluate the elastic anisotropy of peridotites from the subcontinental lithosphere, specimens of the Northern Hessian Depression (Germany) and the Balmuccia Ultramafic Massif (Northern Italy) have been used. They comprise four olivine texture types, which are characteristic for olivine textures observed worldwide. The bulk rock elastic properties have been calculated using olivine and orthopyroxene textures, their single-crystal elastic constants at ambient pressure/temperature conditions and their volume fraction. Clinopyroxene and spinel are assumed to be randomly distributed. The effect of four different orientations of the foliation within the uppermost mantle has been evaluated, since this orientation is usually unknown.¶Two of the olivine textures have a pronounced azimuthal dependence of compressional waves when a horizontal foliation within the uppermost mantle is presumed. These variations cause significant azimuthal variations of the P-wave reflections coefficients at the Moho. Primarily, we predict a significant azimuthal dependence of the critical points where the reflected amplitude increases from approximately 15% to 95%. Possibly, these azimuthal variations can be detected by seismic reflection measurements carried out at earth surface.¶The remaining two texture types only manifest a small directional dependence. When anisotropy of compressional waves is observed in seismic studies, these latter types can only be of subordinate importance. However, all of the peridotites investigated are able to explain the seismically observed azimuthal variations of compressional waves when a vertical foliation is proposed. This ambiguity can be substantially reduced when shear waves (S-waves) are considered. The directional distribution of S-wave velocities and of the S-wave splitting exhibits characteristic patterns for the different olivine texture types. This could be used to discriminate between different texture types and orientations of the foliation within the uppermost mantle. A fundamental requirement for a more comprehensive interpretation is the availability of detailed S-wave observations. The maximum S-wave splitting in the peridotites investigated coincides with the maximum of the faster (leading) S-wave. This may be of importance to detect S-wave splitting in future seismic studies.
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