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Combined onshore-offshore seismic refraction/ wide-angle reflection data have been acquired across Newfoundland, eastern Canada, to investigate the structural architecture of the northern Appalachians, particularly of distinct crustal zones recognized from earlier LITHOPROBE vertical incidence studies. A western crustal unit, correlated with the Grenville province of the Laurentian plate margin thins from 44 to 40 km and a portion of the lower crust becomes highly reflective with velocities of 7.2 km/s. In central Newfoundland, beneath the central mobile belt, the crust thins to 35 km or less and is marked by average continental velocities, not exceeding 7.0 km/s in the lower crust. Further east, in a crustal unit underlying the Avalon zone and associated with the Gondwanan plate margin, the crust is 40 km thick, and has velocities of 6.8 km/s in the lower crust. Explanations for the thin crust beneath the central mobile belt include (1) post-orogenic isostatic readjustment associated with a density in the mantle which is lower beneath this part of the orogen than beneath the margin, (2) mechanical thinning at the base of the crust during orogenic collapse perhaps caused by delamination, and (3) transformation by phase change of a gabbroic lower crust to eclogite which seismologically would be difficult to distinguish from mantle. Except for a single profile in western Newfoundland, velocities in the crust are of typical continental affinity with lower-crustal velocities less than 7.0 km/s. This indicates that there was no significant magmatic underplating under the Newfoundland Appalachians during Mesozoic rifting of the Atlantic Ocean as proposed elsewhere for the New England Appalachians. A mid-crustal velocity discontinuity observed in the Newfoundland region does not coincide with any consistent reflection pattern on vertical incidence profiles. However, we suggest that localized velocity heterogeneities at mid-crustal depths correspond to organized vertical incidence reflections. ?? 1994.
Additional Publication Details
LITHOPROBE East onshore-offshore seismic refraction survey -constraints on interpretation of reflection data in the Newfoundland Appalachians