Seismic anisotropy of the Canadian High Arctic: evidence from shear-wave splitting

Jean-Michel Dube, Fiona Darbyshire* (Corresponding Author), Mitch Liddell, Randell Stephenson, Gordon N. Oakey

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Canadian High Arctic preserves a long and complex tectonic history, including craton formation, multiple periods of orogenesis, extension and basin formation, and the development of a passive continental margin. We investigate the possible preservation of deformational structures throughout the High Arctic subcontinental lithosphere using measurements of seismic anisotropy from shear wave splitting at 11 seismograph stations across the region, including a ~N-S transect along Ellesmere Island. The majority of measurements indicate a
fast-polarisation orientation that parallels tectonic trends and boundaries, suggesting that lithospheric deformation is the dominant source of seismic anisotropy in the High Arctic; however, a sublithospheric contribution cannot be ruled out. Beneath Resolute in the central Canadian Arctic, distinct back-azimuthal variations in splitting parameters can be explained by two anisotropic layers. The upper layer is oriented ~E-W and correlates with tectonic trends and the inferred lithospheric deformation history of the region. The lower layer has a
~NNE-SSW orientation and may arise from present-day convective mantle flow beneath locally-thinned continental lithosphere. In addition to inferences of anisotropic structure beneath the Canadian High Arctic, measurements from the far north of our study region suggest the presence of an anisotropic zone in the lowermost mantle beneath northwest Alaska.
Original languageEnglish
Article number228524
Number of pages13
Early online date17 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

FD is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC/CRSNG) through its Discovery Grant and Canada Research Chair programmes [10.13039/501100000038](341802-2013-RGPIN). Data from the ELLITE stations and some of the long-term stations (Scripps Inst. Oceanography, 1986; Stephenson et al., 2013) are available through the IRIS Data Management Center; the remaining Canadian data are available through the Canadian National Data Centre, Natural Resources Canada (Geological Survey of Canada, 1989). ELLITE instrumentation was loaned to the project by SEIS-UK and the project received support from De Beers Canada and the University of Aberdeen. The ELLITE project was carried out as part of the Circum-Arctic Lithosphere Evolution (CALE) programme, and supported by Natural Resources Canada's GEM-1 programme, which also supported JMD's MSc funding. We thank the Editor and the three reviewers for their helpful comments which improved the manuscript.


  • seismic anisotropy
  • shear wave splitting
  • Canadian High Artic
  • lithospheric deformation
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Canadian High Arctic
  • Lithospheric deformation
  • Shear wave splitting


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