Abstract

Specifying the extent and location of rifted, crystalline Precambrian crust in the eastern United States is important for seismic hazard evaluation and for models that relate upper‐mantle structure to ancient tectonic features and ongoing tectonism. As currently depicted in the National Seismic Hazard Maps (NSHM), the western limit of Iapetan rifted crust is beneath the Appalachian plateau physiographic province, west of the Valley and Ridge province. New estimates of crustal thickness using EarthScope Transportable Array and other data do not support the presence of rifted crust beneath the Blue Ridge, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian plateau physiographic provinces. Crustal thicknesses exceed 45 km throughout most of this region. The crust thins to the southeast beneath the southeastern part of the Piedmont physiographic province and is only 36 km thick near the edge of the Atlantic coastal plain. We suggest that the western limit of Iapetan rift‐extended crust is east of the Blue Ridge province and is associated with the prominent Appalachian gravity gradient. This location coincides with palinspastic reconstructions based on geologic data for the Iapetan rifted margin. Recognition of thick crust beneath the Blue Ridge and Valley and Ridge provinces, unextended by Iapetan rifting, will support more robust modeling of the effects of mantle structure (such as delamination and abrupt changes in lithospheric thickness) on ongoing tectonism and earthquake activity in the eastern United States and will provide more accurate seismotectonic zonation in the NSHM.

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