Conductivity structure of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary beneath the eastern North American margin
Evans, Rob L.
Elsenbeck, James R.
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KeywordLithosphere-asthensphere boundary (LAB); Magnetotelluric (MT); 2-D MT inversion; Conductivity structure; Kimberlite intrusion; Shear-driven deformation
Tectonic plate motion and mantle dynamics processes are heavily influenced by the characteristics of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB), yet this boundary remains enigmatic regarding its properties and geometry. The processes involved in rifting at passive margins result in substantial alteration of the lithosphere through the transition from continental to oceanic lithologies. Here we employ marine magnetotelluric (MT) data acquired along a ∼135 km long profile, offshore Martha's Vineyard, New England, USA, to image the electrical conductivity structure beneath the New England continental margin for the first time. We invert the data using two different MT 2-D inversion algorithms and present a series of models that are obtained using three different parameterizations: fully unconstrained, unconstrained with an imposed LAB discontinuity and a priori constrained lithosphere resistivity. This suite of models infers variability in the depth of the LAB, with an average depth of 115 km at the eastern North America passive margin. Models robustly detect a ∼350 Ωm lithospheric anomalous conductivity zone (LACZ) that extends vertically through the entire lithosphere. Our preferred conductivity model is consistent with regional P-to-S receiver function data, shear-wave velocity, gravity anomalies, and prominent geological features. We propose that the LACZ is indicative of paleolithospheric thinning, either resulting from kimberlite intrusions associated with rifting and the New England Great Meteor hot spot track, or from shear-driven localized deformation related to rifting.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2017. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 18 (2017): 676–696, doi:10.1002/2016GC006667.
Suggested CitationGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 18 (2017): 676–696
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