Moho variations across the northern Canadian Cordillera


Moho morphology in orogens provides important constraints on the rheology and density structure of the crust and underlying mantle. Previous studies of Moho geometry in the northern Canadian Cordillera (NCC) using very sparse seismic data have indicated a flat and shallow (30-35 km) Moho despite an average elevation of >1000 m above sea level attributable to increased thermal buoyancy and lower crustal flow due to elevated temperatures. We estimate Moho depth using receiver functions from an expanded data set incorporating 175 past and recently deployed broadband seismic stations, including the EarthScope Transportable Array, Mackenzie Mountains transect, and other recent deployments. We determine Moho depths in the range 27-43 km, with mean and standard deviations of 33.0 and 3.0 km, respectively, and note thickened crust beneath high elevation seismogenic regions. In the Mackenzie Mountains, thicker crust is interpreted as due to crustal stacking from thrust sheet emplacement. The edge of this region of thickened crust is interpreted to delineate the extent of the former Laurentian margin beneath the NCC and is associated with a transition from thrust to strike-slip faulting observed in regional seismicity. More geographically extensive seismograph deployments at EarthScope Transportable Array density and scale will be required to further extend crustal and lithosphere-scale imaging in western Canada.

Seismological Research Letters
Pascal Audet
Professor of Geophysics & University Research Chair