Abstract

We investigate lateral variations in crustal structure across the northern boundary of the Tibetan Plateau using the receiver functions at three broadband stations deployed during the 1991-1992 Tibet PASSCAL experiment. The first 5 sec of the receiver functions vary systematically with backazimuth: the radial receiver functions are symmetric across the N-S axis while the tangential receiver functions are antisymmetric across this axis. This symmetry can be modeled by E-W striking dipping interfaces in the upper-middle crust. The strike direction is consistent with the E-W trend of surface geology. Modeling a P-to-S converted phase in the receiver functions at each station suggests that there is a mid-crustal low-velocity layer with its upper boundary dipping 20° to 30° to the south. In addition, a shallow northward-dipping interface is responsible for the “double-peaked” direct P arrivals in the radial receiver functions and large tangential motions at one of the stations. The low-velocity layer, together with other geological and seismological observations, suggests that there is a hot, possibly partial melt zone in the middle crust of northern Tibet. Alternately, dipping velocity interfaces might be associated with some buried thrust faults in the upper crust that accommodated crust shortening during the plateau formation.

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