Small-scale upper mantle extension beneath a destroyed craton
Abstract:The North China Craton (NCC), as an unusual craton with part of its thick lithosphere destructed, records the geodynamic processes associated with the convergence of Eurasia and the Pacific and Philippine plates lasting from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic. How the cratonic lithosphere deformed in response to the extensional tectonics caused by the oceanic plate subduction, however, remains debated. In order to investigate the mantle deformation of the NCC, we present new shear wave splitting measurements and updated tomographic models beneath a 900-km long profile across the north NCC. Compared to our other observations in the NCC, this profile is shorter but also crosses a region that experienced strong lithospheric destruction, therefore provides a good opportunity to improve our understanding of upper mantle deformation during the craton destruction.
The upper mantle deformation is studied using SKS data from 60 broadband stations with average spacing of 15 km. For the data from events occurring at distances of 85º–115º, fast polarization directions and delay times (fδt) are retrieved by a routine method, while for the events at distances < 85º, waveform modeling are applied to obtain (fδt) after separating the effects of S and SKS. The measured splitting parameters show small-scale variations from east to west: the major fast directions, trending NE-SW or NW-SE in contrast, distribute intermittently along the profile.
We plot the splitting parameters overlapping on the geological map and the tomography image for a depth range of 120-300 km. Comparison shows good consistency of the splitting pattern and structural features both at shallow and deep depths: NW-SE trending fast directions are observed at stations located within the basins or extensional zones like metamorphic core complexes, with the fast direction parallel to the extensional or stretching directions; the fast directions and the shear-wave velocity anomalies within the upper mantle also show changes with spatially coherency. This consistency in small-scale variations through the crust to the upper mantle implies coupled pattern of deformation at the lithospheric scale of the NCC, and possibly reflects the dominant effect of small-scale mantle flow during the cratonic reactivation in the north edge of the NCC.