Abstract

Measured heat fluxes from previously published data and 34 additional boreholes outline the terrestrial heat flow field in southern British Columbia. Combined with heat generation representative of the crust at 10 sites in the Intermontane and Omineca belts, the data define a heat flow province with a reduced heat flow of 63 mW m−2 and a depth scale of 10 km. Such a linear relationship is not found or expected in the Insular Belt and the western half of the Coast Plutonic Complex where low heat fluxes are interpreted to be the result of recent subduction. The apparent boundary between low and high heat flux is a transition over a distance of 20 km, located in Jervis Inlet 20–40 km seaward of the Pleistocene Garibaldi Volcanic Belt.The warm, thin crust of the Intermontane and Omenica Crystalline belts is similar to that of areas of the Basin and Range Province where the youngest volcanics are more than 17 Ma in age. Processes 50 Ma ago that completely heated the crust and upper mantle could theoretically produce such high heat fluxes by conductive cooling of the lithosphere. But it is more likely that the asthenosphere flows towards the subduction zone, bringing heat to the base of the lithosphere. Since the reduced heat flow is high but constant, large differences in upper crustal temperatures within this heat flow province at present are caused by large variations in both crustal heat generation and near-surface thermal conductivity. The sharp transition in heat flux near the coast is the result of the combined effects of convective heating of the eastern Coast Plutonic Complex, pronounced differential uplift and erosion across a boundary within the Coast Plutonic Complex, and the subducting oceanic plate.

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