Multi-dimensional Crustal and Lithospheric Structure of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco by Magnetotelluric Imaging
Abstract:The PICASSO (Program to Investigate Convective Alboran Sea System Overturn) project and the concomitant TopoMed (Plate re-organization in the western Mediterranean: Lithospheric causes and topographic consequences – an ESF EUROSCORES TOPO-EUROPE project) project were designed to collect high resolution, multi-disciplinary lithospheric scale data in order to understand the tectonic evolution and lithospheric structure of the western Mediterranean. The over-arching objectives of the magnetotelluric (MT) component of the projects are (i) to provide new electrical conductivity constraints on the crustal and lithospheric structure of the Atlas Mountains, and (ii) to test the hypotheses for explaining the purported lithospheric cavity beneath the Middle and High Atlas inferred from potential-field lithospheric modeling.
We present the results of an MT experiment we carried out in Morocco along two profiles: an approximately N-S oriented profile crossing the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and the eastern Anti-Atlas to the east (called the MEK profile, for Meknes) and NE-SW oriented profile through western High Atlas to the west (called the MAR profile, for Marrakech). Our results are derived from three-dimensional (3-D) MT inversion of the MT data set employing the parallel version of Modular system for Electromagnetic inversion (ModEM) code.
The distinct conductivity differences between the Middle-High Atlas (conductive) and the Anti-Atlas (resistive) correlates with the South Atlas Front fault, the depth extent of which appears to be limited to the uppermost mantle (approx. 60 km). In all inverse solutions, the crust and the upper mantle show resistive signatures (approx. 1,000 Ωm) beneath the Anti-Atlas, which is the part of stable West African Craton. Partial melt and/or exotic fluids enriched in volatiles produced by the melt can account for the high middle to lower crustal and uppermost mantle conductivity in the Folded Middle Atlas, the High Moulouya Plain and the central High Atlas.