Local modification of the lithosphere beneath the central and western North China Craton: 3-D constraints from Rayleigh wave tomography

Mingming Jiang*, Yinshuang Ai, Ling Chen, Yingjie Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


We have imaged the lithospheric structure beneath the central and western North China Craton (NCC) with Rayleigh wave tomography. The Rayleigh waveforms of 100 teleseismic events recorded by 208 broadband stations are used to yield high-resolution phase velocity maps at 13 periods from 20. s to 143. s. A 3-D S-wave velocity model is constructed based on the phase velocity maps. Our S-wave velocity model is broadly consistent with the results of previous tomography studies, but shows more detailed variations within the lithosphere. The Trans-North China Orogen (TNCO) is generally characterized by low-velocity anomalies but exhibits great heterogeneities. Two major low-velocity zones (LVZs) are observed in the north and south, respectively. The northern LVZ laterally coincides with sites of Cenozoic magmatism and extends to depths greater than 200. km. We propose that a small-scale mantle upwelling is present, confined to the north of the TNCO. A high-velocity patch in the uppermost mantle is also observed between the two LVZs adjacent to the narrow transtensional zone of the Cenozoic Shanxi-Shaanxi Rift (SSR). We interpret this as the remnant of a cratonic mantle root. The Ordos Block in the western NCC is associated with high-velocity anomalies, similarly reflecting the existence of cratonic mantle root, but a discernible low-velocity layer is observed at depths of 100-150. km in this location. We interpret that this mid-lithospheric structure was probably formed by metasomatic processes during the early formation of the NCC. Based on the observations from our S-wave velocity model, we conclude that the current highly heterogeneous lithospheric structure beneath the TNCO is the result of multiphase reworking of pre-existing mechanically weak zones since the amalgamation of the craton. The latest Cenozoic lithospheric reworking is dominated by the far-field effects of both Pacific plate subduction and the India-Eurasia collision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-864
Number of pages16
JournalGondwana Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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