Lower crustal rheological expression in inverted basins
Mike Sandiford, David L. Hansen, Sandra N. McLaren, 2006. "Lower crustal rheological expression in inverted basins", Analogue and Numerical Modelling of Crustal-Scale Processes, S. J. H. Buiter, G. Schreurs
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Although lithospheric modelling has provided extraordinary insights into the processes that shape the continental crust, considerable uncertainty surrounds the basic rheology that governs behaviour at geological timescales. In part, this is because it has proved difficult to identify the geological observations that might discriminate, or unify, models of lithospheric rheology. In particular, the relative strength of lower crust and upper mantle remains a contentious aspect of continental lithospheric rheology. We show that various models for lower crustal rheology may produce distinct patterns of inversion in extensional sedimentary basins, consistent with some of the observed natural variability of inversion styles. Inversion of basin interiors, as is common in European Mesozoic basins, is favoured by a lithospheric rheology more sensitive to lateral thermal structure than to changes in the depth of the Moho, consistent with there being little strength contrast between the lower crust and upper mantle in these settings. In contrast, inversion of basin margins, particularly involving basinward verging structures, is consistent with a rheological sensitivity to the depth of Moho as would apply for a lower crust much weaker than the upper mantle. We use an example from central Australia to demonstrate this latter response, together with thermochronologic data that suggests that a relatively weak lower crust in this setting may reflect abnormally high geothermal gradients.
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The crust of the Earth records the deformational processes of the inner Earth and the influence of the overlying atmosphere. The state of the Earth’s crust at any time is therefore the result of internal and external processes, which occur on different time and spatial scales. In recent years important steps forward in the understanding of such complex processes have been made by integrating theory and observations with experimental and computer models. This volume presents state-of-the-art analogue and numerical models of processes that alter the Earth’s crust. It shows the application of models in a broad range of geological problems with careful documentation of the modelling approach used. This volume contains contributions on analogue and numerical sandbox models, models of orogenic processes, models of sedimentary basins, models of surface processes and deformation, and models of faults and fluid flow.