Abstract

The SNORCLE refraction – wide-angle reflection (R/WAR) experiment, SNORE’97, included four individual lines along the three transect corridors. A combination of SNORE’97 results with those from earlier studies permits generation of a 2000 km long lithospheric velocity model that extends from the Archean Slave craton to the present Pacific basin. Using this model and coincident near-vertical incidence (NVI) reflection data and geological information, an interpreted cross section that exemplifies 4 Ga of lithospheric development is generated. The velocity structural models correlate well with the reflection sections and provide additional structural, compositional, and thermal constraints. Geological structures and some faults are defined in the upper crust. At a larger scale, the seismic data identify a variety of orogenic styles ranging from thin- to thick-skinned accretion in the Cordillera and crustal-scale tectonic wedging associated with both Paleoproterozoic and Mesozoic collisions. Models of Poisson’s ratio support the NVI interpretation that a thick wedge of cratonic metasediments underlies the eastern accreted Cordilleran terranes. Despite the variety of ages, orogenic styles, and tectono-magmatic deformations that are spanned by the seismic corridors, the Moho remains remarkably flat and shallow (33–36 km) across the majority of the transect. Significant variations only occur at major tectonic boundaries. Laterally variable crustal velocities are consistently slower beneath the Cordillera than beneath the cratonic crust. This is consistent with the high temperatures (800–900 °C) required by the slow upper mantle velocities (7.8–7.9 km/s) observed beneath much of the Cordillera. Heterogeneity of the lithospheric mantle is indicated by wide-angle reflections below the Precambrian domains and the western Cordillera.

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