A broad, topographic flexure localized east of and over the central and southern Sierra Nevada, herein named the Mono Arch, apparently represents crustal response to lithospheric and/or upper-mantle processes, probably dominated by mantle upwelling within the continental interior associated Pacific-North American plate-boundary deformation. This zone of flexure is identified through comparison between the topographic characteristics of the active Cascade volcanic arc and backarc regions with the analogous former arc and backarc in the Sierra Nevada and eastern Sierra Nevada. Serial topographic profiles measured normal to the modern Cascade backarc reveal an accordance of topographic lows defined by valley floors with an average minimum elevation of ???1400-1500m for over 175km to the southeast. Although the accordance drops in elevation slightly to the south, the modern Cascade backarc region is remarkably level, and is characterized by relief up to ???750m above this baseline elevation. By contrast, serial topographic profiles over the former arc and backarc transitions of the eastern Sierra region exhibit a regional anticlinal warping defined by accordant valley floors and by a late Miocene-early Pliocene erosion surface and associated deposits. The amplitude of this flexure above regionally flat baseline elevations to the east varies spatially along the length of the former Sierran arc, with a maximum of ???1000m centred over the Bridgeport Basin. The total zone of flexure is approximately 350km long N-S and 100km wide E-W, and extends from Indian Wells Valley in the south to the Sonora Pass region in the north. Previous geophysical, petrologic, and geodetic studies suggest that the Mono Arch overlies a zone of active mantle upwelling. This region also represents a zone crustal weakness formerly exploited by the middle-to-late Miocene arc and is presently the locus of seismic and volcanic activities. This seismic zone, which lies east of the Sierra Nevada block, includes the northern and central Walker Lane in Nevada and the eastern California shear zone to the south in California. Vertical patterns of surface deformation over this region are characterized by west tilting of the Sierra Nevada block and by block faulting of a late Miocene erosion surface east of the Sierra Nevada.
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The Mono Arch, eastern Sierra region, California: Dynamic topography associated with upper-mantle upwelling?