Structure and tectonics of the northwestern United States from EarthScope USArray magnetotelluric data

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
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Abstract

The magnetotelluric component of the EarthScope USArray program has covered over 35% of the continental United States. Resistivity tomography models derived from these data image lithospheric structure and provide constraints on the distribution of fluids and melt within the lithosphere. We present a three-dimensional resistivity model of the northwestern United States which provides new insight into the tectonic assembly of western North America from the Archean to present. Comparison with seismic tomography models reveals regions of correlated and anti-correlated resistivity and velocity that help identify thermal and compositional variations within the lithosphere. Recent (Neogene) tectonic features reflected in the model include the subducting Juan de Fuca–Gorda plate which can be traced beneath the forearc to more than 100 km depth, high lithospheric conductivity along the Snake River Plain, and pronounced lower-crustal and upper-mantle conductivity beneath the Basin and Range. The latter is abruptly terminated to the northwest by the Klamath–Blue Mountains Lineament, which we interpret as an important structure during and since the Mesozoic assembly of the region. This boundary is interpreted to separate hot extended lithosphere from colder, less extended lithosphere. The western edge of Proterozoic North America, as indicated by the Cretaceous initial 87Sr/86Sr = 0.706 contour, is clearly reflected in the resistivity model. We further image an Archean crustal block (“Pend Oreille block”) straddling the Washington/Idaho border, which we speculate separated from the Archean Medicine Hat block in the Proterozoic. Finally, in the modern Cascades forearc, the geometry and internal structure of the Eocene Siletz terrane is reflected in the resistivity model. The apparent eastern edge of the Siletz terrane under the Cascades arc suggests that pre-Tertiary rocks fill the Washington and Oregon back-arc.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Structure and tectonics of the northwestern United States from EarthScope USArray magnetotelluric data
Series title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.07.035
Volume 402
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 275
Last page 289
Country United States