EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Slab tear and rotation imaged with core-refracted shear wave anisotropy

Laura Petrescu1, Andrei Mihai1,2, and Felix Borleanu1
Laura Petrescu et al.
  • 1National Institute for Earth Physics, Bucharest, Romania (
  • 2University of Bucharest, Faculty of Physics, Bucharest, Romania

We investigate the complex flow field around the Vrancea slab in Romania, a steeply sinking seismogenic lithospheric block that experienced lateral tear-off and possible rotation. The Vrancea slab is located beneath the South-East Carpathians and generates frequent seismicity despite its remote location from active collisional boundaries. We analyse core-refracted shear wave (SKS) splitting recorded by permanent broadband seismic stations from the Romanian Seismic Network for periods up to 10 years, and compare our results with seismic tomography of the upper mantle. We identify several stations with large backazimuthal variations of SKS fast axis polarization and delay times both in the slab hinge zone, the back-arc and the circumslab region, indicating complex mantle deformation patterns. To investigate the effect of a two-level rotated slab we invert SKS waveforms using cross-convolutional misfit combined with a neighbourhood search algorithm to model two layers of anisotropy. In the shallow mantle, anisotropy aligns with the upper slab strike and reorients along the strike of the lower slab at depths below the hinge zone. In the backarc trench-perpendicular anisotropy switches to trench-parallel, due to the recent retreat and roll-back of the slab. Our results have important implications for understanding SKS interference from subducted slab fragments and provide evidence of the recent retreat, break-off and rotation of two Vrancea slab levels sinking into the upper mantle.

How to cite: Petrescu, L., Mihai, A., and Borleanu, F.: Slab tear and rotation imaged with core-refracted shear wave anisotropy, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12807,, 2023.