Abstract

Unusually clear indications of complex structure in the mid-to-lower crust is revealed by seismic reflection surveys in northeastern Kansas. This complexity contrasts markedly with the layer-cake simplicity of both the overlying sedimentary cover and most previous crustal models for the central United States. Seismic sections collected by COCORP (Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling) as part of a major east-west traverse across the Neniaha Ridge and Midcontinent Geophysical Anomaly indicate that below a thin, relatively flat layered Paleozoic sedimentary section, the deep crust is characterized by numerous dipping and arcuate reflections and diffractions. In many places layered and crosscutting, these reflections suggest convoluted three-dimensional folded, faulted, and intruded structures. Specific identification of these deep features may be possible if future surveys can trace them to accessible depths. The basement above these reflection complexes contains significantly fewer reflections—consistent with, but not necessarily diagnostic of, the granitic terrane that dominates basement drill-hole samples in the region. Among the events at these shallower basement depths are several east-dipping reflections, some of which may be major faults. Travel times corresponding to expected Moho depths (about 36 km) are characterized less by specific reflections than by an apparent decrease in the density and number of reflections. While evidence of crustal heterogeneity is common among deep reflection studies, the Kansas seismic results outlined in this brief report stand out as being unusually clear representations of such.

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