Abstract

The Gulf Coast-East Coast magnetic anomaly extends for at least 4000 km from south-central Texas to offshore Newfoundland as one of the longest continuous tectonic features in North America and a major crustal element of the entire North Atlantic-Gulf Coast region. Analysis of 28 profiles spaced at 100 km intervals and four computed models demonstrate that the anomaly may be explained by a thick zone of mafic and ultramafic rocks averaging 13-15 km in depth. The trend of the anomaly closely follows the trend of main Appalachian features: in the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, the anomaly is as far south of the Ouachita front as it is east of the western limit of deformation through the central Appalachians. Because the anomaly continues across well-known continental crust in northern Florida and onshore Texas, it cannot plausibly be ascribed to an edge effect at the boundary of oceanic with continental crustal compositions. The northwest-verging, deep-crustal events discovered in COCORP data from the Ouachitas and Appalachians suggest an analogy with the main suture of the Himalayan orogen in the Tibetan Plateau. In this paper the anomaly is identified with the late Paleozoic Alleghenian megasuture, in which the northwest-verging crustal-detachment surfaces ultimately root.

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