Abstract

This paper presents results from a teleseismic experiment conducted across the Hearne Province in south-central Alberta. Data from an array of nine portable broad-band seismographs deployed along a 500 km NW–SE array have been supplemented with recordings from two Canadian National Seismograph Network stations. P-wave delay times from 293 earthquakes have been inverted for upper-mantle velocity structure below the array. The recovered model reveals high velocities beneath much of the southern Hearne Province to depths of 200–250 km, which are interpreted as deep-seated lithospheric structure. Contrary to recent tectonic models, these results suggest that the Hearne lithosphere has remained intact. In particular, it appears unlikely that evidence for extensive, lower crustal melting derives from lithospheric delamination. However, the results admit the possibility that high mantle conductivity, as revealed in magnetotelluric studies, originates through small volumes of connected hydrous minerals or other conductive species introduced during subduction. Decreased upper-mantle velocities at the northern end of the Medicine Hat block also pose challenges for the interpretation of differential subsidence across the region which may manifest distant forcing due to more recent subduction. Multievent SKS-splitting analysis yields an average polarization direction that is broadly consistent with both the orientation of fossil strain fields, related to ∼ 1.8 Ga NW–SE shortening, and North American absolute plate motion. Moho depth estimates from receiver functions are fairly uniform (∼ 38 km) beneath northern stations but show crustal thickening (>40 km) within the Medicine Hat block to the south and are consistent with values from active-source profiling.

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