Abstract

The Great Slave Lake shear zone (GSLsz) exposes lower crustal rocks analogous to deep-seated segments of modern strike-slip fault zones, such as the San Andreas fault. Extending for 1300 km beneath the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin to the southern margin of the Slave Province, the GSLsz produces one of the most prominent linear magnetic anomalies in Canada. From May to October 1999, 13 three-component portable broadband seismograph stations were deployed in a 150-km profile across a buried segment of the shear zone to investigate its lithospheric structure. Splitting analysis of core-refracted teleseismic shear waves reveals an average fast-polarization direction (N49°E ± 19°) that is approximately parallel to the shear zone. Individual stations near the axis of the shear zone show more northerly splitting directions, which we attribute to interference between regional anisotropy in the upper mantle (fast axis ∼N60°E) and crustal anisotropy within the shear zone (fast axis ∼N30°E). At the location of our profile, the shear zone is characterized by a 10-mGal axial gravity high with a wavelength of 30 km, superimposed on a longer wavelength 12-mGal low. This gravity signature is consistent with the basic features of the crustal model derived from receiver-function analysis: a Moho that dips inward toward the shear-zone axis and a mid-crustal zone with high S-wave velocity (AVs = 0.6 ± 0.2 km/s). The axial gravity high may be related to uplift of deeper crustal material within the shear zone, or protolith-dependent compositional differences between the shear zone and surrounding wall rocks.

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