Seismic Architecture of the Upper Mantle Underlying California and Nevada

A. Christian Stanciu, & Eugene D. Humphreys

Published November 28, 2021, SCEC Contribution #11783

We present new P and S teleseismic tomography models of the upper mantle beneath California and Nevada. Improved tomographic methods and the incorporation of new data increase image resolution and seismic structure definition. Technical advancements include the use of 3-D ray tracing, ray weighting and finite-frequency sensitivity kernels. Together with the incorporation of modern crustal velocity models to account for crustal delay time, these tomographic advancements reveal slightly higher amplitudes and narrower structures beneath prominent tectonic features in California and Nevada. The addition of new data from the southern California Borderland and northwestern California are particularly useful. Based on our imaging results, we discuss the effects of temperature and partial melt on upper mantle seismic velocity beneath California and Nevada. We interpret the major seismically fast structures in our study area to be Juan de Fuca slab and its downward continuation beneath central Nevada and foundered Farallon lithosphere beneath the southern Sierra Nevada and Transverse Ranges. The seismically slow structures beneath the slab-free window of northern California Coast Range, the Salton Trough extensional basin, and the Cascadia back arc, are all consistent with the presence of partial melting of decompressing mantle. The imaged seismically fast and slow anomalies imply buoyancy variations and melt productivity that ultimately act on the overlying crust.

Key Words
seismic tomography, upper mantle, 3-D ray tracing, ray weighting, California and Nevada, Farallon lithosphere

Stanciu, A., & Humphreys, E. D. (2021). Seismic Architecture of the Upper Mantle Underlying California and Nevada. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 126(12). doi: 10.1029/2021JB021880.