Abstract

Near-vertical incidence and refraction – wide-angle reflection seismic data, recorded as part of Lithoprobe studies in the Paleoproterozoic–Archean domains of Canada’s Northwest Territories, show remarkable reflections from within the upper mantle. A parallel pair of reflectors imaged by the near-vertical data can be traced from Moho levels (∼33 km) down to ∼70 km depth. In a previous study, the reflectors were interpreted as the top and bottom of an ∼1.8 Ga subducted oceanic crust beneath the Hottah terrane. Further inboard, where the seismic line changes its direction from east–west to nearly north–south, another pair of reflectors extends subhorizontally for about 100 km at ∼70 km depth before dipping downward. The subhorizontal reflectors were not correlated with the dipping slab; instead they were interpreted as a separate feature. However, they roughly coincide with a horizontal interface modeled from wide-angle data by an earlier study. Considering the crooked line acquisition geometry, we re-examined both near-vertical incidence and wide-angle reflection data using 2-dimensional (2-D) and 3-D forward and inverse modeling algorithms. Our results demonstrate that the subhorizontal reflectors are the continuation of the relict subducted slab, which now extends laterally for 300 km. Its base is the source of the wide-angle data. The apparent flattening for the near-vertical data is most likely an artifact of projecting a 3-D geometry onto a 2-D cross section. The shallowly subducted slab probably contributed to the thickening and stabilization of the subcrustal lithosphere below the Wopmay orogen.

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