Abstract

A crustal seismic refraction experiment was conducted across the south Jeanne d'Arc Basin, one of the rifted sedimentary basins on the Grand Banks, offshore eastern Canada, that developed in Mesozoic time in response to extension and rifting between the North American plate and the African, Iberian, and European plates. The primary objective of this experiment, which was carried out to correlate with an existing deep seismic reflection profile, was to delineate the deep crustal geometry below the basin. Ten ocean-bottom seismometers were deployed across the basin and recorded signals from a large air-gun array. The results show that the crust is primarily composed of two layers, with velocities of 5.8–6.1 and 7.2 km/s, respectively. There is very little relief on the Moho across the basin, with only a 2 km step, from a depth of 37 to 35 km, occurring west of the basin. There is, however, considerable complexity of crustal structure, particularly near Moho depths. These results are valuable when used in conjunction with other data in the region, in particular gravity and deep seismic reflection data. The seismic reflection and refraction data sets together give a fairly complete picture of crustal geometry in the crust. The flat Moho below the basin is compatible with the detachment of the major basin-bounding fault in the lower crust or at the Moho, as seen on the reflection data. The 7.2 km/s layer is not restricted to the zone of Mesozoic crustal extension below the basin, but occurs also below relatively unextended parts of the crust. This layer may represent basaltic intrusion or underplating during a rifting event. It may also correspond to the reflective lower crust observed on the deep seismic reflection data. These results provide strong constraints on models describing the origin and evolution of this and other rifted basins.

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