This paper presents data and modelling results from a crustal and upper mantle wide-angle seismic transect across the Salton Trough region in southeast California. The Salton Trough is a unique part of the Basin and Range province where mid-ocean ridge/transform spreading in the Gulf of California has evolved northward into the continent. In 1992, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted the final leg of the Pacific to Arizona Crustal Experiment (PACE). Two perpendicular models of the crust and upper mantle were fit to wide-angle reflection and refraction travel times, seismic amplitudes, and Bouguer gravity anomalies. The first profile crossed the Salton Trough from the southwest to the northeast, and the second was a strike line that paralleled the Salton Sea along its western edge. We found thin crust (???21-22 km thick) beneath the axis of the Salton Trough (Imperial Valley) and locally thicker crust (???27 km) beneath the Chocolate Mountains to the northeast. We modelled a slight thinning of the crust further to the northeast beneath the Colorado River (???24 km) and subsequent thickening beneath the metamorphic core complex belt northeast of the Colorado River. There is a deep, apparently young basin (???5-6 km unmetamorphosed sediments) beneath the Imperial Valley and a shallower (???2-3 km) basin beneath the Colorado River. A regional 6.9-km/s layer (between ???15-km depth and the Moho) underlies the Salton Trough as well as the Chocolate Mountains where it pinches out at the Moho. This lower crustal layer is spatially associated with a low-velocity (7.6-7.7 km/s) upper mantle. We found that our crustal model is locally compatible with the previously suggested notion that the crust of the Salton Trough has formed almost entirely from magmatism in the lower crust and sedimentation in the upper crust. However, we observe an apparently magmatically emplaced lower crust to the northeast, outside of the Salton Trough, and propose that this layer in part predates Salton Trough rifting. It may also in part result from migration of magmatic spreading centers associated with the southern San Andreas fault system. These spreading centers may have existed east of their current locations in the past and may have influenced the lower crust and upper mantle to the east of the current Salton Trough.
Additional publication details
Crustal and upper mantle velocity structure of the Salton Trough, southeast California