Shear-wave polarization anisotropy in the central part of northeastern (NE) Japan was investigated. We analyzed S phases of 293 intermediate-depth earthquakes recorded at 77 stations and obtained 1286 splitting parameters. The obtained results show the systematic variation in splitting parameters across the arc. The leading shear-wave polarization directions (fast direction) obtained at stations in the western side of the study area are oriented nearly E-W, which is sub-parallel to the direction of relative plate motion between the Pacific plate and the North American/Okhotsk plate. In contrast, fast directions obtained at stations in the eastern side of the study area are oriented approximately N-S. Stations in the western side have a larger average delay time compared to those in the eastern side. These variations suggest that the nature of anisotropy is quite different between the eastern and the western sides. Both experimental studies on the deformation of olivine and numerical simulations of plate-driven flow predict that the lattice-preferred orientation of olivine causes the fast direction sub-parallel to the flow direction for the conditions in the mantle wedge of NE Japan. We thus infer that the lattice-preferred orientation of olivine generated by flow-induced strain is the most likely candidate for anisotropy that produces splitting with E-W fast direction. Three possible causes of anisotropy in the eastern side are considered: deformation of water-rich olivine in the mantle wedge, trench-parallel flow in the mantle wedge due to along-strike dip variations in the slab and anisotropy in the crust and the slab. We could not, however, determine which causes are dominant. Further systematic study is required to reveal the cause of anisotropy in the eastern side.
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