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Lithospheric evolution in the wake of the Mendocino Triple Junction: structure of the San Andreas Fault system at 2 Ma

Lithospheric evolution in the wake of the Mendocino Triple Junction: structure of the San Andreas Fault system at 2 Ma
Lithospheric evolution in the wake of the Mendocino Triple Junction: structure of the San Andreas Fault system at 2 Ma
As the Mendocino triple junction (MTJ) moves northwards up the North American margin, the tectonic regime changes from subduction to strike-slip. For the first few million years following triple junction migration, the San Andreas Fault system consists of several strike-slip faults distributing deformation over a region ~ 150 km wide. This same region is expected to be affected by a slab gap beneath North America, created by the northward removal of the subducting Gorda plate, and into which asthenospheric mantle is thought to rise to crustal depths. The onshore and offshore Mendocino Triple Junction Seismic Experiment (MTJSE) provides a continuous seismic velocity-reflectivity cross-section across the deforming zone from the Pacific ocean basin to the eastern edge of the California Coast Ranges. The accretionary complex rocks that make up most of the crustal thickness are underlain by a 5-10 km thick high-velocity(6.4-7.2 km s- 1) layer at the base of the crust that extends from the Pacific to at least 50 km, and probably 90 km east of the San Andreas Fault. The top of the lower crustal layer deepens from 7 km beneath the Pacific ocean basin at the west end of the profile to 23 km at the east end by a gentle (5° -10°) eastward dip punctuated by abrupt offsets at the San Andreas and Maacama fault zones. At each fault the top of the lower crust is offset by up to 4 km, down to the east. The Moho is similarly deformed beneath the faults, although by only 2 km. Such localized deformation of the Moho implies that these two strike-slip faults penetrate through the entire crust to the upper mantle. Good agreement between seismic velocity and seismic reflectivity in the vicinity of the faults gives confidence in these results, although details of the offset beneath the San Andreas Fault are better resolved than those under the Maacama Fault. Seismic velocities in the upper mantle show only a small change along the profile, from 8.1 km s- 1 beneath the Pacific to about 7.9 km s- 1 beneath the Coast Ranges. We infer that upwelling of asthenosphere into the slab gap is limited laterally, or a lithospheric lid is present in the slab gap by 2 Ma. Gravity data and crustal density structure show that most of the margin width is in local Airy isostasy with the changes in crustal thickness near the strike-slip faults corresponding closely to changes in surface topography. The crustal blocks defined by the strike-slip faults appear to be independently in isostatic equilibrium, provided that the mantle beneath the Coast Ranges has a somewhat lower density than that beneath the Pacific plate. The densities in the Coast Range upper mantle are consistent with limited temperature elevation, suggesting that the asthenospheric mantle is present beneath the depth of seismic energy penetration from our survey.
MENDOCINO TRIPLE JUNCTION, SAN ANDREAS FAULT, LITHOSPHERE, CALIFORNIA WATERS, PACNECAL, CONTINENTAL MARGINS, TECTONICS, FAULTS
0956-540X
233-247
Henstock, T.J.
27c450a4-3e6b-41f8-97f9-4e0e181400bb
Levander, A.
2afc1ebd-4103-4664-8242-08b3968f7f90
Henstock, T.J.
27c450a4-3e6b-41f8-97f9-4e0e181400bb
Levander, A.
2afc1ebd-4103-4664-8242-08b3968f7f90

Henstock, T.J. and Levander, A. (2000) Lithospheric evolution in the wake of the Mendocino Triple Junction: structure of the San Andreas Fault system at 2 Ma. Geophysical Journal International, 140 (1), 233-247. (doi:10.1046/j.1365-246x.2000.00010.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

As the Mendocino triple junction (MTJ) moves northwards up the North American margin, the tectonic regime changes from subduction to strike-slip. For the first few million years following triple junction migration, the San Andreas Fault system consists of several strike-slip faults distributing deformation over a region ~ 150 km wide. This same region is expected to be affected by a slab gap beneath North America, created by the northward removal of the subducting Gorda plate, and into which asthenospheric mantle is thought to rise to crustal depths. The onshore and offshore Mendocino Triple Junction Seismic Experiment (MTJSE) provides a continuous seismic velocity-reflectivity cross-section across the deforming zone from the Pacific ocean basin to the eastern edge of the California Coast Ranges. The accretionary complex rocks that make up most of the crustal thickness are underlain by a 5-10 km thick high-velocity(6.4-7.2 km s- 1) layer at the base of the crust that extends from the Pacific to at least 50 km, and probably 90 km east of the San Andreas Fault. The top of the lower crustal layer deepens from 7 km beneath the Pacific ocean basin at the west end of the profile to 23 km at the east end by a gentle (5° -10°) eastward dip punctuated by abrupt offsets at the San Andreas and Maacama fault zones. At each fault the top of the lower crust is offset by up to 4 km, down to the east. The Moho is similarly deformed beneath the faults, although by only 2 km. Such localized deformation of the Moho implies that these two strike-slip faults penetrate through the entire crust to the upper mantle. Good agreement between seismic velocity and seismic reflectivity in the vicinity of the faults gives confidence in these results, although details of the offset beneath the San Andreas Fault are better resolved than those under the Maacama Fault. Seismic velocities in the upper mantle show only a small change along the profile, from 8.1 km s- 1 beneath the Pacific to about 7.9 km s- 1 beneath the Coast Ranges. We infer that upwelling of asthenosphere into the slab gap is limited laterally, or a lithospheric lid is present in the slab gap by 2 Ma. Gravity data and crustal density structure show that most of the margin width is in local Airy isostasy with the changes in crustal thickness near the strike-slip faults corresponding closely to changes in surface topography. The crustal blocks defined by the strike-slip faults appear to be independently in isostatic equilibrium, provided that the mantle beneath the Coast Ranges has a somewhat lower density than that beneath the Pacific plate. The densities in the Coast Range upper mantle are consistent with limited temperature elevation, suggesting that the asthenospheric mantle is present beneath the depth of seismic energy penetration from our survey.

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Published date: 2000
Keywords: MENDOCINO TRIPLE JUNCTION, SAN ANDREAS FAULT, LITHOSPHERE, CALIFORNIA WATERS, PACNECAL, CONTINENTAL MARGINS, TECTONICS, FAULTS

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 8785
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/8785
ISSN: 0956-540X
PURE UUID: 0e56f002-1d29-43fd-af11-3c2414f9182f
ORCID for T.J. Henstock: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2132-2514

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Date deposited: 25 Aug 2004
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:52

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Author: T.J. Henstock ORCID iD
Author: A. Levander

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