Seismic Discontinuities beneath the Southwestern United States from S Receiver Functions

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Olufemi Ebenezer Akanbi and Aibing Li, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States
S- Receiver functions along the Colorado Plateau-Rio Grande Rift-Great Plains Transect known as La RISTRA in the southwestern United States have been utilized to map the Moho and lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) beneath this tectonically active region. The receiver functions were stacked according to ray piercing points with moveout corrections in order to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of converted S-to-P phases. The Moho appears at 30-40 km beneath the Rio Grande Rift (RGR) and deepens to 35-45 km beneath the Great Plains (GP) and the Colorado Plateau (CP). A sharp discontinuity is observed along the profile with the average depth of 80 km beneath the RGR, 100 km beneath the GP, and 160 km beneath the CP. This discontinuity is consistent with the top of a low velocity zone in a shear wave model beneath the array and is interpreted as the LAB. Strong phases imaged at ~90 km beneath the CP and GP could be a combination of side-lobes of the Moho conversions and primary Sp phases from a mid-lithosphere discontinuity (MLD). The relatively shallow Moho and LAB beneath the Rio Grande Rift is indicative of lithosphere extension and asthenosphere upwarp. In addition, the LAB shows depth-step depressions at the RGR-CP and RGR-GP boundaries, providing evidence for mantle downwelling. The variation of the lithospheric depth across the RISTRA array supports that edge-driven, small-scale mantle convection is largely responsible for the recent extension and uplift in the Rio Grande Rift and the Colorado Plateau.