Two lithospheric profiles across southern California derived from gravity and seismic data

Journal of Geodynamics
By: , and 



We present two detailed 2-D density transects for the crust and uppermost mantle across southern California using a linear gravity inversion technique. This technique parameterizes the crust and upper mantle as a set of blocks that are based on published geologic and seismic models. Each block can have a range of densities that are constrained where possible by borehole measurements, seismic velocities, and petrologic data. To further constrain the models, it is assumed that the lithosphere is close to isostatic equilibrium at both ends of the profiles, in the deep ocean and east of the Mojave Desert. We calculate the lithostatic pressure variations field for the whole cross section to rule out the geophysically insignificant solutions. In the linear equation, ?? = a + bV (V, seismic P-wave velocity; ??, density), which approximates the mantle density-velocity (??-V) relationship, different coefficients for b were evaluated. Lower coefficients (b < 0.2) correspond to an almost purely thermally perturbed mantle, while higher coefficients (b > 0.3) imply that other effects, such as composition and/or metamorphic changes, play an important role in the mantle. Density models were constructed with the coefficient b ranging from 0 to 0.6. The results indicate that a high b value in the mantle ??-V relationship is associated with less dense crust in the Mojave block and more dense crust in the Catalina schist block. In the less dense Mojave block, the average density of the whole crust is ???2.75 g/cm3, while that of the lower crust is ???2.72 g/cm3. These densities imply a high silica content in the crust, and a minor fraction of basic rock in the lower crust, or perhaps the absence of a basaltic layer altogether. By comparison, the average density of a typical continental stable platform is ???2.85 g/cm3. Models with higher b coefficients (0.5-0.6) are characterized by a large isostatic imbalance. On the other hand, lower b values (0-0.2) require a consolidated whole crust density in the Mojave Desert of ???2.78 g/cm3, and a lower crust density of ???2.89 g/cm3 with mostly basaltic composition. This contradicts the observed, lower Vp/Vs-ratio in the Mojave Desert associated with mostly felsic and low-density crust. Models with lower b coefficients (0.1-0.2) are characterized by an absence of local Airy compensation beneath the San Gabriel Mountains at the LARSE-1 profile. These, and other non-gravity arguments, suggest optimal solutions to the mantle ??-V relation of b ??? 0.2-0.4. This, in turn, means that both thermal and petrological effects occur inside the downwelling of the uppermost mantle high velocity body located beneath the Transverse Ranges. During the development of this mantle downwelling, the basaltic layer of the Mojave block was likely eroded and pulled down into the high velocity body. Those basaltic fragments may have been transformed into eclogites, and this metamorphic change implies a higher b-coefficient density-velocity relationship than would be expected for a purely thermal process.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Two lithospheric profiles across southern California derived from gravity and seismic data
Series title Journal of Geodynamics
DOI 10.1016/j.jog.2006.09.011
Volume 43
Issue 2
Year Published 2007
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Geodynamics
First page 274
Last page 307