Abstract

Travel-time curves were constructed for the Pacific Northwest states based on recordings of recent local earthquakes. Average velocities of Pn and S waves were found to be 4 per cent lower in the region west of the Cascade Mountains than they are to the east of the Cascades, while velocities of P* and P¯ waves are essentially the same in the two provinces. West of the Cascades the velocities obtained are 7.67 km/sec for Pn, 4.37 for Sn, 6.61 for P*, and 5.48 for P¯. East of the Cascades they are 7.96 km/sec for Pn, 4.56 for Sn, 6.60 for P*, and 5.53 for P¯. Intercept times indicate that the crust (above the Mohorovicic discontinuity) is 5 to 10 km thinner to the west than east of the Cascades. Pn velocities are found to be independent of epicentral distance to distances of 1000 km, implying that the corresponding mantle materials and densities are uniform down to the low-velocity layer in each province. In both provinces Poisson's ratio in the mantle is 0.26. From the travel-time curves and gravity data, it appears that the section above the low-velocity layer east of the Cascades is approximately typical or “normal,” while the corresponding mantle west of the Cascades consists of a different or anomalous material. The likelihood of crystal alignment, temperature anomalies, and normal velocity-density relations in the upper mantle sections are discussed.

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