We examine spatially varying patterns of sub-slab anisotropy derived from geodynamic models of subduction beneath Central America and Tonga. Invoking a variety of anisotropic fabrics, we compare the predicted sub-slab anisotropy of these models against source-side, shear-wave splitting observations using realistic ray paths. We find that in both regions fabric type has a strong impact on predicted shear-wave splitting. In Tonga, where three-dimensional (3D) return flow dominates, E-type olivine lattice-preferred orientation (LPO) fabric predicts a sub-slab mantle anisotropy that best matches observations. In Central America, where entrained flow dominates, anisotropy from C-type LPO fabric yields the best fit. This highlights the importance of fabric type when interrogating geodynamic models because different regions may be characterized by different LPO fabrics. A primary controller of fabric type is water content. Taken at face value, these results then suggest the sub-slab mantle beneath Tonga is less well hydrated than that beneath Central America.
- Received 9 July 2016.
- Revision received 8 October 2016.
- Accepted 10 January 2017.
- © 2017 Geological Society of America