The teleseismic signature of fossil subduction: Northwestern Canada

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Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth
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Apr 29
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Between June 2003 and September 2005, 20 broadband, three-component seismometers were deployed along the MacKenzie-Liard Highway in Canada's Northwest Territories as part of the joint Lithoprobe-IRIS Canada Northwest Experiment (CANOE). These stations traverse a paleo-Proterozoic suture and subduction zone that has been previously documented to mantle depths using seismic reflection profiling. Teleseismic receiver functions computed from similar to 250 earthquakes clearly reveal the response of the ancient subduction zone. On the radial component, the suture is evident as a direct conversion from the Moho, the depth of which increases from similar to 30 km to similar to 50 km over a horizontal distance of similar to 70 km before its signature disappears. The structure is still better defined on the transverse component where the Moho appears as the upper boundary of a 10 km thick layer of anisotropy that can be traced from 30 km to at least 90 km depth. The seismic response of this layer is characterized by a frequency dependence that can be modeled by upper and lower boundaries that are discontinuous in material properties and their gradients, respectively. Anisotropy can be characterized by a +/- 5% variation in shear velocity and hexagonal symmetry with a fast axis that plunges at an oblique angle to the subduction plane. The identification of this structure provides an unambiguous connection between fossil subduction and fine-scale, anisotropic mantle layering. Previous documentation of similar layering below the adjacent Slave province and from a range of Precambrian terranes across the globe provides strong support for the thesis that early cratonic blocks were stabilized through processes of shallow subduction.


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Doi 10.1029/2007jb005127