Seismic Evidence for a Geosuture between the Yangtze and Cathaysia Blocks, South China.
ABSTRACT: South China, composed of the Yangtze and Cathaysia Blocks and the intervening Jiangnan orogenic belt, has been central to the debate on the tectonic evolution of East Asia. Here we investigate the crustal structure and composition of South China from seismic data employing the H-k stacking technique. Our results show that the composition and seismic structure of the crust in the Jiangnan orogenic belt are identical to those of the Cathaysia Block. Our data reveal a distinct contrast in the crustal structure and composition between the two flanks of the Jiujiang-Shitai buried fault. We propose that the Jiujiang-Shitai buried fault defines a geosuture between the Yangtze and Cathaysia Blocks, and that the felsic lower crust of the Cathaysia Block and the Jiangnan orogenic belt may represent fragments derived from the Gondwana supercontinent.
Project description:Crustal rejuvenation is a key process that has shaped the characteristics of current continental structures and components in tectonic active continental regions. Geological and geochemical observations have provided insights into crustal rejuvenation, although the crustal structural fabrics have not been well constrained. Here, we present a seismic image across the North China Craton (NCC) and Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) using a velocity structure imaging technique for receiver functions from a dense array. The crustal evolution of the eastern NCC was delineated during the Mesozoic by a dominant low seismic wave velocity with velocity inversion, a relatively shallow Moho discontinuity, and a Moho offset beneath the Tanlu Fault Zone. The imaged structures and geochemical evidence, including changes in the components and ages of continental crusts and significant continental crustal growth during the Mesozoic, provide insight into the rejuvenation processes of the evolving crust in the eastern NCC caused by structural, magmatic and metamorphic processes in an extensional setting. The fossil structural fabric of the convergent boundary in the eastern CAOB indicates that the back-arc action of the Paleo-Pacific Plate subduction did not reach the hinterland of Asia.
Project description:Using a topography-dependent tomographic scheme, the seismic velocity structure of the Eastern Tibetan Plateau, including the uplifted Longmenshan (LMS) orogenic belt, is accurately imaged in spite of the extreme topographic relief in the LMS region and thick sedimentary covers in the neighbouring Sichuan Basin. The obtained image shows a high-resolution upper crustal structure on a 500?km-long profile that is perpendicular to the LMS. The image clearly shows that the crystalline basement was uplifted within the LMS orogenic belt, and that the neighbouring Songpan-Ganzi Terrane was covered by a thick flysch belt, with evidence of near-surface thrust faults caused by convergence between Eastern Tibet and the Sichuan Basin. The indication that the lower crust beneath the LMS was folded and pushed upwards and the upper crust was removed by exhumation, supports the concept of a lower crustal channel flow beneath Eastern Tibet. The image also reveals that the destructive Wenchuan earthquake of year 2008 occurred in the upper crust, directly at the structural discontinuity between Eastern Tibet Plateau and the Sichuan Basin.
Project description:The strength of the lithosphere controls tectonic evolution and seismic cycles, but how rocks deform under stress in their natural settings is usually unclear. We constrain the rheological properties beneath the Taiwan orogenic belt using the stress perturbation following the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake and fourteen-year postseismic geodetic observations. The evolution of stress and strain rate in the lower crust is best explained by a power-law Burgers rheology with rapid increases in effective viscosities from ~1017 to ~1019 Pa s within a year. The short-term modulation of the lower-crustal strength during the seismic cycle may alter the energy budget of mountain building. Incorporating the laboratory data and associated uncertainties, inferred thermal gradients suggest an eastward increase from 19.5±2.5°C/km in the Coastal Plain to 32±3°C/km in the Central Range. Geodetic observations may bridge the gap between laboratory and lithospheric scales to investigate crustal rheology and tectonic evolution.
Project description:Geophysical processes of the pre-earthquake activities are difficult to be determined since less pre-seismic signal is observed directly. Crustal density changes derived from the periodical terrestrial gravimetry may provide meaningful deep information for the pre-earthquake cue. In this study, the crustal density changes following the 2016 M<sub>S</sub>6.4 Menyuan earthquake are estimated using ground-based gravity-change data from 2011 to 2015 in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The results show that negative density changes dominate the region between the South Longshou Mountain fault and the Daban Mountain fault except the southeast of this region (the seismic region) during 2011-2012. Positive density changes appeared in the middle crust near the epicenter during 2012-2013 and in the upper and middle crust east of the epicenter approximately 1.5 years before the earthquake (2013-2014), and then negative density changes appeared under and northeast of the epicenter approximately four months before the earthquake (2014-2015). The state of the crustal materials near the seismic region changed from convergence to expansion, in turn, indicating that the characteristics of the deep seismogenic process was corresponding to Amos Nur's 1974 dilatancy-fluid diffusion model.
Project description:We present compiled geochemical data of young (mostly Pliocene-present) intermediate magmatic rocks from continental collisional belts and correlations between their whole-rock Sr/Y and La/Yb ratios and modern crustal thickness. These correlations, which are similar to those obtained from subduction-related magmatic arcs, confirm that geochemistry can be used to track changes of crustal thickness changes in ancient collisional belts. Using these results, we investigate temporal variations of crustal thickness in the Qinling Orogenic Belt in mainland China. Our results suggest that crustal thickness remained constant in the North Qinling Belt (~45-55?km) during the Triassic to Jurassic but fluctuates in the South Qinling Belt, corresponding to independently determined tectonic changes. In the South Qinling Belt, crustal thickening began at ~240?Ma and culminated with 60-70-km-thick crust at ~215?Ma. Then crustal thickness decreased to ~45?km at ~200?Ma and remained the same to the present. We propose that coupled use of Sr/Y and La/Yb is a feasible method for reconstructing crustal thickness through time in continental collisional belts. The combination of the empirical relationship in this study with that from subduction-related arcs can provide the crustal thickness evolution of an orogen from oceanic subduction to continental collision.
Project description:Southern Tibet is the most active orogenic region on Earth where the Indian Plate thrusts under Eurasia, pushing the seismic discontinuity between the crust and the mantle to an unusual depth of ~80?km. Numerous earthquakes occur in the lower portion of this thickened continental crust, but the triggering mechanisms remain enigmatic. Here we show that dry granulite rocks, the dominant constituent of the subducted Indian crust, become brittle when deformed under conditions corresponding to the eclogite stability field. Microfractures propagate dynamically, producing acoustic emission, a laboratory analog of earthquakes, leading to macroscopic faults. Failed specimens are characterized by weak reaction bands consisting of nanometric products of the metamorphic reaction. Assisted by brittle intra-granular ruptures, the reaction bands develop into shear bands which self-organize to form macroscopic Riedel-like fault zones. These results provide a viable mechanism for deep seismicity with additional constraints on orogenic processes in Tibet.
Project description:The Tibetan Plateau results from the collision of the Indian and Eurasian Plates during the Cenozoic, which produced at least 2,000 km of convergence. Its tectonics is dominated by an eastward extrusion of crustal material that has been explained by models implying either a mechanical decoupling between the crust and the lithosphere, or lithospheric deformation. Discriminating between these end-member models requires constraints on crustal and lithospheric mantle deformations. Distribution of seismic anisotropy may be inferred from the mapping of azimuthal anisotropy of surface waves. Here, we use data from the CNSN to map Rayleigh-wave azimuthal anisotropy in the crust and lithospheric mantle beneath eastern Tibet. Beneath Tibet, the anisotropic patterns at periods sampling the crust support an eastward flow up to 100°E in longitude, and a southward bend between 100°E and 104°E. At longer periods, sampling the lithospheric mantle, the anisotropic structures are consistent with the absolute plate motion. By contrast, in the Sino-Korean and Yangtze cratons, the direction of fast propagation remains unchanged throughout the period range sampling the crust and lithospheric mantle. These observations suggest that the crust and lithospheric mantle are mechanically decoupled beneath eastern Tibet, and coupled beneath the Sino-Korean and Yangtze cratons.
Project description:The ongoing collision between India and Eurasia has created the Tibetan Plateau, which features high elevations and large crustal thicknesses. The easternmost portion of the plateau has long been a key region for studying the uplift mechanism of the Tibetan Plateau, especially after the 2008 Ms. 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake. However, previous studies have assumed that easternmost Tibet is tectonically homogeneous, and the tectonic significance of the Min Shan has been overshadowed by that of its more conspicuous neighbour, the Longmen Shan region. Here, we describe the crustal geometry of the Min Shan region using two newly obtained deep seismic reflection profiles. In this study, we identify an upper-lower crust mechanical decoupling within the Min Shan region; the Min Shan region is tectonically delineated by an inherited boundary fault zone, the Huya fault zone, which was responsible for triggering the 2017 Jiuzhaigou M 7.0 earthquake. Together with the gravity dataset and previous studies in this area, the outlined crustal geometry indicated that crustal-scale shortening at the eastern plateau margin is a primary mechanism driving uplift, although extensive uplift might have occurred due to the decoupled shortening between the upper and lower crust.
Project description:Earthquakes in the continental crust commonly occur in the upper 15 to 20 km. Recent studies demonstrate that earthquakes also occur in the lower crust of collision zones and play a key role in metamorphic processes that modify its physical properties. However, details of the failure process and sequence of events that lead to seismic slip in the lower crust remain uncertain. Here, we present observations of a fault zone from the Bergen Arcs, western Norway, which constrain the deformation processes of lower crustal earthquakes. We show that seismic slip and associated melting are preceded by fracturing, asymmetric fragmentation, and comminution of the wall rock caused by a dynamically propagating rupture. The succession of deformation processes reported here emphasize brittle failure mechanisms in a portion of the crust that until recently was assumed to be characterized by ductile deformation.
Project description:Earthquakes are caused by the release of tectonic strain accumulated between events. Recent advances in satellite geodesy mean we can now measure this interseismic strain accumulation with a high degree of accuracy. But it remains unclear how to interpret short-term geodetic observations, measured over decades, when estimating the seismic hazard of faults accumulating strain over centuries. Here, we show that strain accumulation rates calculated from geodetic measurements around a major transform fault are constant for its entire 250-year interseismic period, except in the ~10 years following an earthquake. The shear strain rate history requires a weak fault zone embedded within a strong lower crust with viscosity greater than ~1020?Pa?s. The results support the notion that short-term geodetic observations can directly contribute to long-term seismic hazard assessment and suggest that lower-crustal viscosities derived from postseismic studies are not representative of the lower crust at all spatial and temporal scales.