Shear Wave Structure in the Lithosphere of Texas from Ambient Noise Tomography

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Yao Yao and Aibing Li, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Texas contains several distinct tectonic provinces, the Laurentia craton, the Ouachita belt, and the Gulf coastal plain. Although numerous geophysical experiments have been conducted in Texas for petroleum exploration, the lithosphere structure of Texas has not been well studied. We present here the Texas-wide shear wave structure using seismic ambient noise data recorded at 87 stations from the Transportable Array of the USArray between March 2010 and February 2011. Rayleigh wave phase velocities between pairs of stations are obtained by cross-correlating long ambient noise sequences and are used to develop phase velocity maps from 6 to 40 s. These measured phase velocities are used to construct 1-D and 3-D shear wave velocity models, which consist of four crust layers and one upper mantle layer. Shear wave velocity maps reveal a close correlation with major geological features. From the surface to 25 km depth, Positive anomalies coincide with the Laurentia craton, and negative anomalies coincide with the continental margin. The boundary of positive-negative anomaly perfectly matches the Ouachita belt. The Llano Uplift is imaged as the highest velocity through the mid-crust because the igneous rock forming the uplift has faster seismic velocity than the normal continental crust. Similarly, three small high-velocity areas exist beneath the Waco Uplift, Devils River Uplift, and Benton Uplift, even though surface geological traces are absent in these areas. The lowest velocity at the shallow crust appears in northeastern and southeastern Texas separated by the San Marcos Arch, correlating with thick sediment layers. An exceptional low velocity is imaged in southernmost Texas in the lower crust and upper mantle, probably caused by subducted wet oceanic crust before the rifting in the Gulf of Mexico. In the uppermost mantle, positive shear wave anomalies extend southeastward from the Ouachita belt to the Gulf coast, likely evidencing the subducted oceanic lithosphere during the Ouachita orogeny. This observation need be further tested using long period surface wave dispersions from earthquakes, which help to improve model resolution in the upper mantle.