Seismic refraction, profiles in Yunnan Province, southwestern China, define the crustal structure in an area of active tectonics, on the southern end of the Himalaya-Burma arc. The crustal thickness ranges from 38 to 46 kilometers, and the relatively low mean crustal velocity indicates a crustal composition compatible with normal continental crust and consisting mainly of meta-sedimentary and silicic intrusive rocks, with little mafic or ultramafic component. This composition suggests a crustal evolution involving sedimentary processes on the flank of the Yangtze platform rather than the accretion of oceanic island arcs, as has been proposed. An anomalously low upper-mantle velocity observed on one profile, but not on another at right angles to it may indicate active tectonic processes in the mantle or seismic anisotropy.
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Crustal structure of Yunnan province, People's Republic of China, from seismic refraction profiles