SEISMIC anisotropy, manifested by the splitting of shear waves into two orthogonal polarizations, provides evidence for deformation in the Earth's upper mantle. Where such deformation has been inferred beneath Precambrian cratons, it has been interpreted either as related to recent plate motion1,2, or inherited from the Precambrian3,4. Here we present data from a portable seismograph array in the Kaapvaal craton of South Africa, which indicate that the inferred direction of mantle flow underneath the array is close to the direction of absolute plate motion for southern Africa since the end of the Jurassic period. Such an alignment has also been reported for the North American craton2, suggesting that the flow in both regions is related mainly to shearing of the sublithospheric mantle by the plate above. The old continental roots that are likely to exist in this depth range5,6 must therefore be deformed by the plate motion, but the deformations are not strong enough to be seen in the presently available seismic tomography data.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Vinnik, L. P., Farra, V. & Romanowicz, B. Bull. seism. Soc. Am. 79, 1542–1558 (1989).
Vinnik, L. P., Makeyeva, L. I., Milev, A. & Usenko, A. Yu. Geophys. J. Int. 111, 433–447 (1992).
Silver, P. G. & Chan, W. W., Nature 335, 34–39 (1988).
Silver, P. G. & Chan, W. W., J. geophys. Res. 96, 16429–16454 (1991).
Su, W.-J., Woodward, R. L. & Dziewonski, A. M. Nature 360, 149–152 (1992).
Jordan, T. H. Rev. Geophys. Space Phys. 13, 1–12 (1975).
McKenzie, D. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc. 58, 689–715 (1979).
Ribe, N. M. J. geophys. Res. 97, 8737–8747 (1992).
Vinnik, L. P., Kosarev, G. L. & Makeyeva, L. I. Dokl. Acad. Nauk SSSR 278, 1335–1339 (1984) (in Russian).
Green, R. W. E. Bull. seism. Soc. Am. 82, 497–504 (1992).
Dietz, R. S. & Holden, J. C. J. geophys. Res. 75, 4939–4956 (1970).
Ribe, N. M. J. Geophys. Res. 94, 4213–4223 (1989).
Nicolas, A. & Christensen, N. I. Rev. Geophys. 25, 111–123 (1987).
Boyd, F. R. & Gurney, J. J. Science 232, 472–477 (1986).
Jones, M. Q. W. J. geophys. Res. 93, 3243–3260 (1988).
Mainprice, D. & Silver, P. G. Phys. Earth planet. Inter. 78, 257–280 (1993).
Farra, V., Vinnik, L. P., Romanowicz, B., Kosarev, G. L. & Kind, R. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc. 106, 421–431 (1991).
Savage, M. & Silver, P. G. Phys. Earth planet. Inter. 78, 207–227 (1993).
Vinnik, L. P., Krishna, V. G., Kind, R., Bormann, P. & Stammler, K. Geophs. Res. Lett. 21, 457–460 (1994).
de Wit, M. J. et al. Nature 357, 553–562 (1992).
Richardson, S. H., Gurney, J. J., Erlank, A. J. & Harris, J. W. Nature 310, 198–202 (1984).
About this article
Cite this article
Vinnik, L., Green, R. & Nicolaysen, L. Recent deformations of the deep continental root beneath southern Africa. Nature 375, 50–52 (1995) doi:10.1038/375050a0
Izvestiya, Physics of the Solid Earth (2019)
Upper mantle dynamics of Bangladesh by splitting analysis of core-mantle refracted SKS, PKS, and SKKS phases
Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors (2018)
Geoscience Frontiers (2018)
Seismic anisotropy inferred from direct S-wave-derived splitting measurements and its geodynamic implications beneath southeastern Tibetan Plateau
Solid Earth (2017)
Deep scientific drilling results from Koyna and Killari earthquake regions reveal why Indian shield lithosphere is unusual, thin and warm
Geoscience Frontiers (2016)