Using P and S arrival times from 4625 local and regional earthquakes recorded at 174 seismic stations and associated geophysical investigations, this paper presents a three-dimensional crustal and upper mantle velocity structure of southwestern China (21??-34??N, 97??-105??E). Southwestern China lies in the transition zone between the uplifted Tibetan plateau to the west and the Yangtze continental platform to the east. In the upper crust a positive velocity anomaly exists in the Sichuan Basin, whereas a large-scale negative velocity anomaly exists in the western Sichuan Plateau, consistent with the upper crustal structure under the southern Tibetan plateau. The boundary between these two anomaly zones is the Longmen Shan Fault. The negative velocity anomalies at 50-km depth in the Tengchong volcanic area and the Panxi tectonic zone appear to be associated with temperature and composition variations in the upper mantle. The Red River Fault is the boundary between the positive and negative velocity anomalies at 50-km depth. The overall features of the crustal and the upper mantle structures in southwestern China are a low average velocity, large crustal thickness variations, the existence of a high-conductivity layer in the crust or/and upper mantle, and a high heat flow value. All these features are closely related to the collision between the Indian and the Asian plates.
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Three-dimensional velocity structure of crust and upper mantle in southwestern China and its tectonic implications