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Abstract

The crust and upper mantle structure beneath a single, three-component broadband seismic station may be determined using energy from distant earthquakes. Features such as the depth of the seismic Moho, the abruptness of the change in seismic velocity across the Moho, the velocity profile through the crust and the seismic velocity of the upper mantle may be found using receiver function techniques. Waveforms are analysed which contain energy arising from the interaction of incoming signals with the Earth structure beneath the receiving station. Seismic characteristics of the deep crust are often continuous or slowly varying across a single terrane and, moreover, show sudden contrasts across terrane and other major tectonic boundaries. Such techniques are, therefore, appropriate tools in the exploration of deep structure and, hence, in the understanding of large-scale continental assembly. They complement geological and geochronological investigations of surface rocks by providing the third spatial dimension. In regions of no surface basement exposure, seismic and other geophysical methods provide the only means of mapping the lateral extent of a given terrane and/or tracing province boundaries. Receiver function methods are presented here in the context of terrane tectonics with illustrative examples from former Gondwanan provinces and locations on the Pacific margin.

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