Abstract

We present a new, near-comprehensive survey of the variations in seismic structure across the West Australian craton at the scale of the main terrane groups. Analyzing data from distant earthquakes recorded at temporary and permanent stations located across the region, we found the best-fitting structure by modeling the conversions from P- to S-wave motion (the receiver function) that take place as the seismic energy travels upward through the lithosphere. Such methods can be used to delineate the extent of cratonic and orogenic terranes in regions where geological exposure of the surface is limited, and they provide an effective alternative to active-source seismic techniques for deep crustal targets. The seismic structure is consistent within several of the individual Archean terranes, most notably the Pilbara, Murchison, and Southern Cross. These terranes are underlain by lower crust of low seismic velocity and show a sharp seismic Moho. The structure shows significant contrasts between neighboring terranes; thus, major tectonic units have a velocity profile that is a signature of that terrane or terrane group. We infer that the seismic structure of the Archean crust and upper mantle was fixed before craton assembly and preserved through the subsequent collision and accretion of the tectonic units that formed the West Australian craton.

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