Crustal Structure in the area of the North American Mid-Continent Rift System from P-wave Receiver Functions
Abstract:The Mid-continent Geophysical Anomaly (MGA) represents the largest gravity anomaly in the North American continental interior, its strongest portion stretching from Iowa to Lake Superior, and is the direct result of 1.1 Ga deposition and uplift of volcanic rocks in the Mid-continent Rift System (MRS).
The Superior Province Rifting Earthscope Experiment (SPREE) collected broadband seismic data around this prominent portion of the MGA for 2.5 years from 82 seismic stations, simultaneously with about 30 Transportable Array (TA) stations in the region. To image crustal structure around the MGA, we analyzed the P-wave trains of 119 teleseismic earthquakes at these stations using the time-domain iterative-deconvolution method of Ligorria and Ammon (1999), the waveform-fitting method of Van der Meijde et al. (2003), and the H-κ stacking method of Zhu and Kanamori (2000). Our aim was to resolve intra-crustal layering and Moho characteristics.
Despite considerable noise related to station installation constraints, we find that outside of the MGA, the Moho is sharp and relatively flat, both beneath the Archean Superior Province as well as beneath the Proterozoic terranes to its south. This Moho produces consistent P to S converted phases in the analyzed receiver functions. Receiver functions show much more complexity along the MGA, where P to S converted phases from the Moho are much weaker and more variable with azimuth and epicentral distance. Similar results have been found in Iowa by French et al. (2009). For many stations along the MGA, multiple weak S phases arrive around the time expected for the Moho-converted phase. In addition, strong P-to-S converted phases are observed from the base of shallow sedimentary layers. The base of the sedimentary layer is fairly shallow outside of the MGA, thickens near the flanks where gravity anomalies are low and shallows again in the center where the gravity peaks.
We conclude that the Moho is not a strong feature of the MRS, that the transition from crust to mantle occurs over a 10-20 km thick layer with somewhat sharp upper and lower bounds, and confirm, as expected, that the remaining Moho in the Precambrian region is relatively sharp and flat.