Abstract

Rocks of the granulite facies have been proposed as major constituents of the lower continental crust. To evaluate this possibility, compressional and shear wave velocities have been determined to pressures of 10 kb for 10 granulite samples, thus enabling comparisons of seismic data for the lower crust with the velocities and elastic properties of granulite rocks. The samples selected for this study range in composition from granitic to basaltic, with bulk densities of 2.68 to 3.09 g/cm3. At 6 kb, compressional (Vp) and shear (Vs) wave velocities range from 6.39 to 7.49 km/sec and from 3.36 to 4.25 km/sec, respectively. Velocities in granulite rocks are shown to vary systematically with variations in mineralogical constitution. Both Vp and Vs, increase with increasing pyroxene, amphibole, and garnet. Velocities increase with an increasing ratio of pyroxene to amphibole in hornblende-granulite subfacies rocks of approximately equivalent chemical compositions. Decreasing quartz content in granulite rocks produces an increase in Vp and an accompanying decrease in Vs, thereby significantly changing Poisson's ratio. The range of velocities measured for the granulite samples is similar to the range of seismic velocities reported for the lower continental crust; thus, the hypothesis that granulite rocks are major lower crustal constituents is further strengthened. Furthermore, it is shown that lower crustal composition is extremely variable, and therefore valid discussions of composition must be limited to specific regions where seismic velocities are well known. The use of seismic velocities in estimating lower crustal composition is illustrated for the Canadian Shield in Ontario and Manitoba.

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