Abstract

We have determined crustal thickness in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, an area that corresponds to an offset of the main northern Appalachians units. A "complete" Bouguer anomaly was calculated from recent depth-to-basement compilations and sediment densities from well data. The Moho surface was obtained by inverting the Bouguer anomaly, assuming a single density contrast at depth, and using an average depth provided by deep reflection seismic data. The resulting crustal model shows a Moho depth of 42–44 km beneath the Grenville Craton, north of the Appalachian deformation front. South of this front, the depth to Moho displays a pronounced thinning of the crust beneath the Carboniferous Magdalen Basin. This is in striking contrast to the deep seismic data, which give a Moho depth of about 43 km. The modelling of the Bouguer anomaly in the Magdalen Basin, taking into account the seismic reflection and refraction data, reconciles these different results and suggests that a 43 km deep Moho beneath the basin is associated with a lower crustal layer about 13 km thick, with high velocity (7.35 km/s) and density (3.05 g/cm3). The Bouguer anomaly suggests that the lateral extent of this high-density layer is confined roughly to the Magdalen Basin. We suggest that this layer is due to mantle underplating of the crust as a result of the Carboniferous-age formation of the Magdalen Basin, and that it is not a feature related to the early to middle Paleozoic development of the Appalachian Orogen.

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