Abstract

The Vibroseis Augmented Listen Time (VAuLT) experiment is a special seismic-reflection survey designed to image the fine-scale structure of the continental upper mantle of the Rocky Mountain foreland in southwestern Alberta to depths of 200 km or more. Two mutually perpendicular profiles were acquired across and within the Vulcan structure, a roughly east–west-trending tectonic belt in the crystalline basement beneath the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin that separates the Medicine Hat block from the Loverna block. Relative-amplitude-preserving processing procedures were developed to estimate the seismic-signal-penetration limit, which varies between 100 and 220 km depth. Amplitude-decay analysis and Q estimation show that a seismically unreflective zone within the Vulcan structure is not caused by inadequate signal penetration. This blank zone is interpreted as part of an intrusive complex that has overprinted the preexisting structural fabric. Unlike most other parts of Alberta, the reflection Moho is indistinct and the uppermost mantle (45–60 km depth) is reflective, particularly for source–receiver offsets >10 km. South-dipping reflectivity in the lower crust and upper mantle beneath the Loverna block and northern Vulcan structure gives way to subhorizontal reflectivity beneath the Medicine Hat block. We interpret this reflectivity as compositional layering and (or) zones of ductile deformation that were previously part of the mafic lower crust, but that have now undergone metamorphic transformation to eclogite. The deepest observed reflection is an isolated, gently north-dipping event at ∼120 km depth.

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