Journal of Seismology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 77–108 | Cite as

Lateral variation of crust and upper mantle structures in NW Iran derived from surface wave analysis

  • G. Mortezanejad
  • H. RahimiEmail author
  • F. Romanelli
  • G. F. Panza


To obtain the shear velocity structure across North-West of Iran and surrounding areas to a depth of 160 km, we performed a namely Hedgehog nonlinear inversion on Rayleigh wave group velocity dispersion curves in the period range from 7 to 60 s. The distributed dispersion curves are the results of our surface wave dispersion tomography using the data of 280 local and regional seismic events, recorded by the medium- and broad-band seismic stations in the region. We outline different crust and upper mantle structures for the study area based on calculated group and shear velocities. Our results reveal relatively low velocities at the shorter periods (7–10 s) in the presence of sedimentary basins (e.g., South Caspian Basin) and for eastern Anatolia and relatively high velocities along the Sanandaj–Sirjan Metamorphic zone, Alborz, Talesh, and the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. By depth inversion of group velocities, we observed 14-km-thick sediments in South Caspian Basin and Kura Depression. Based on our maps at 20 s, we outline different crustal models for the region and highlight the differences between South Caspian Basin and NW Iran, on one side, and the similarities between the South Caspian Basin and Kura Depression that extend beneath Talesh, Alborz, and Lesser Caucasus, on the other. Comparing the shear velocity of lower crust in South Caspian Basin and Kura Depression with that of NW Iran proves different origination of lower crust in the basin, probably oceanic source, because of its significant higher shear velocity rather than NW Iran. In Talesh, we observe indications of an under-thrusting of the lower crust of SCB beneath NW Iran while the middle crust is locked. The analysis of group velocities at longer periods (≥ 35 s) and obtained shear velocity models allows us to outline different lithospheric structures and crustal depth in the region. The high group velocities in Talesh, South Caspian Sea, and Lesser Caucasus on one side and Zagros Folding and Thrust Belt on the other, beside the result of shear velocity models, suggest the presence of a stable and thick mantle lid that seems to be thin or absent in the eastern Anatolia and much of NW Iran. The shallowest Moho and Lithosphere Asthenosphere boundary depths of 37 and 63 km were observed in Eastern Anatolian Accretionary Complex. The thin mantle lid in this region has affected the whole crust in such a way that we observed the lowest shear velocities inside the crust in this region. We observed a significant thickening of both crust and lithosphere in Sanandaj–Sirjan Metamorphic zone comparing to Urmieh Dokhtar Magmatic Arc and Zagros Folding and Thrust Belt on its two sides.


Rayleigh waves Group velocity Dispersion curve tomography Inversion Shear velocity NW Iran 



The authors wish to acknowledge the Iranian Seismological Center (IRSC), the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES), and the European Integrated Data Archive (EIDA) for providing the required waveforms for this study. Also we warmly thank the Department of Earth Sciences of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS) that provided us the data recorded by their individual seismic network. The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of University of Tehran for this research under grant number 28950/1/04. The article was partially supported on the Italian side by Italian MIUR (PRIN 2015 project). We appreciate the reviewers for their constructive comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Mortezanejad
    • 1
  • H. Rahimi
    • 1
    Email author
  • F. Romanelli
    • 2
  • G. F. Panza
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of GeophysicsUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and GeosciencesUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly
  3. 3.Accademia Nazionale dei LinceiRomeItaly
  4. 4.Institute of GeophysicsChina Earthquake AdministrationBeijingChina
  5. 5.International Seismic Safety Organization (ISSO)ArsitaItaly
  6. 6.Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture (BUCEA)BeijingChina

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