Seismic Structure beneath the Gulf of California: a Contribution from Group Velocity Measurements

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Francesca Di Luccio1, Patricia Persaud2 and Robert W Clayton2, (1)National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Rome, Italy, (2)California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
Rayleigh wave group velocity dispersion measurements from local and regional earthquakes are used to interpret the lithospheric structure in the Gulf of California region. We compute group velocity maps for Rayleigh waves from 10 to 150 s using earthquakes recorded by broadband stations of the Network of Autonomously Recording Seismographs in Baja California and Mexico mainland, UNM in Mexico, BOR, DPP and GOR in Southern California and TUC in Arizona. The study area is gridded in 120 longitude cells by 180 latitude cells, with an equal spacing of 10 x 10 km. Assuming that each grid point is laterally homogeneous, for each period the tomographic maps are inverted to produce a 3D lithospheric shear wave velocity model for the region.

Near the Gulf of California rift axis, we found three prominent low shear wave velocity regions, which are associated with mantle upwelling near the Cerro Prieto volcanic field, the Ballenas Transform Fault and the East Pacific Rise. Upwelling of the mantle at lithospheric and asthenospheric depths characterizes most of the Gulf. This more detailed finding is new when compared to previous surface wave studies in the region. A low velocity zone in north-central Baja at ~28ºN which extends east-south-eastward is interpreted as an asthenospheric window. In addition, we also identify a well-defined high velocity zone in the upper mantle beneath central-western Baja California, which correlates with the previously interpreted location of the stalled Guadalupe and Magdalena microplates. We interpret locations of the fossil slab and slab window in light of the distribution of unique post-subduction volcanic rocks in the Gulf of California and Baja California. We also observe a high velocity anomaly at 50 km depth extending down to ~130 km near the southwestern Baja coastline and beneath Baja, which may represent another remnant of the Farallon slab.