Insights Into Layering in the Cratonic Lithosphere Beneath Western Australia

Weijia Sun, Li Yun Fu, Erdinc Saygin, Liang Zhao

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24 Citations (Web of Science)


The characteristics of internal lithospheric discontinuities carry crucial information regarding the origin and evolution of the lithosphere. However, the formation and mechanisms of the midlithosphere discontinuity (MLD) are still enigmatic and controversial. We investigate the midlithospheric discontinuities beneath the Archean Western Australian Craton, which represents one of the oldest continents on the globe, using a novel receiver-based reflectivity approach combined with other geophysical information comprising tomographic P and S wave velocity, radial anisotropy, electrical resistivity, and heat flow data. The MLD is rather shallow with a depth of 68-82 km. Multiple prominent discontinuities are observed in the lithospheric mantle using constructed high-frequency (0.5-4 Hz) P wave reflectivities. These multiple discontinuities coincide well with the broad-scale reduction of relative P and SV wave velocities at the top of the graded transition zone from the lithosphere to the asthenosphere. Strong radial anisotropy in the upper lithosphere mantle tends to be weak across the MLD, which might reflect quasi-laminar lithospheric heterogeneity behavior with a horizontal correlation length that is greater than its vertical correlation length. Broad-scale electrical resistivity variations show little coherence with the MLD. Given these various geophysical observations, the upper lithosphere exhibits rigid and elastic properties above the MLD, while the lower lithosphere tends to be ductile and rheological or viscous. A model comprising quasi-laminar lithospheric heterogeneity could effectively represent the MLD characteristics beneath the Archean continent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405-1418
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


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