Abstract

The ca. 1 Ga Grenville orogeny was a protracted mountain-building event that culminated in the collision of Laurentia and Amazonia and the formation of the Rodinia supercontinent. While the expression of Grenville orogenesis in present-day crustal structure has been extensively investigated in eastern Canada, evidence for contemporaneous crustal deformation is less well established beneath the eastern United States. Furthermore, the interpretation of a geophysical lineament through the U.S. midcontinent, typically inferred to be the Grenville deformation front, has recently been called into question; an alternative hypothesis is that this feature actually corresponds to an eastern arm of the Midcontinent Rift. Here we present P-to-S receiver functions computed for stations of the Mid-Atlantic Geophysical Integrative Collaboration (MAGIC) experiment, a dense array of broadband seismometers across the central Appalachians and midcontinent. We see evidence for a crustal negative velocity gradient that dips gently (dip angle <10°) to the southeast and extends east from a location near the putative Grenville front, terminating near the Appalachian Mountains. While we cannot date this feature, its location and characteristics are consistent with a shallowly dipping, seismically anisotropic intracrustal shear zone associated with collisional deformation, perhaps during Grenville orogenesis. The similarity between this feature and similar mid-crustal detachments in other orogens, both ancient (Appalachians) and modern (Himalayas), suggests that this style of crustal deformation has been common in continental collisional orogens.

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