Abstract

Detailed knowledge of the physical properties of the sediments filling the Mississippi Embayment has proven critical to both unravel the tectonic frame-work operating in the region and assess the seismic hazards posed by the New Madrid Seismic Zone. In this article we show that independent geotechnical estimates for P- and S-wave velocities are compatible with a sedimentary model of K-feldspar clasts embeded in water, and we test its validity by modeling receiver functions at a number of broadband stations. By constraining the bulk sediment thicknesses beneath each station from independent reflection profiling estimates, we have been able to recover the depth to the top of the Cretaceous from the receiver function data at individual stations. Our receiver function modeling thus provides confidence in the velocity and density structures extrapolated from in situ geotechnical measurements in the Upper Mississippi Embayment.

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