Abstract

A synthesis of Canadian Cordilleran refraction data recorded prior to 1971 with other geophysical data shows major features which correlate well with the regional geological structure. The wavelength of M topography decreases from about 200 km at 54°N to about 110 km at 52°N and culminates in a major lithospheric discontinuity east of Vancouver Island. The seismic data indicate the region of the Fraser River at Quesnel, the region immediately east of and parallel to the Coast Plutonic Complex and possibly the western edge of the Hazelton Mountains are sites of significant changes in lithospheric structure.Lateral variations in the average crustal density are necessary to reconcile both gravity and seismic data. The crust beneath the central, intermontane region is characterized by a mass deficiency, whereas the density of the crust beneath Vancouver Island appears greater than average.Calculation of synthetic record sections shows that the Pn phase may propagate considerably beyond crossover in a layer a few wavelengths thick. A model for the Canadian Cordillera which includes a low velocity layer as little as 8 km below the M appears plausible. Model calculations suggest that the M approximates a discontinuity beneath the Coast Plutonic Complex, but is better modelled as a transition zone beneath the Omineca Crystalline belt.

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