Broadband seismic data from the United States were processed into Ps and Sp receiver function image volumes for the purpose of constraining negative velocity gradients (NVG) at depths between the Moho and 200 km. Moho depth picks from the two independent datasets are in good agreement, however, large discrepancies in NVG picks occur and are attributed to free-surface multiples which obscure deep NVG arrivals in the Ps data. From the Sp data, shallow NVG are found west of the Rockies and in the central US while deep and sporadic NVG are observed beneath the Great Plains and northern Rockies. To aid the interpretation of the observed NVG arrivals, the mantle thermal field is estimated by mapping surface wave tomography velocities to temperature assuming an anelastic olivine model. The distribution of temperature versus NVG depth is bi-modal and displays two distinct thermal populations that are interpreted to represent both the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) and mid-lithosphere discontinuities (MLD). LAB arrivals occur in the western US at 60-85 km and 1200-1400°C depth suggesting that they manifest partial melt near the base of the thermal plate. MLD arrivals primarily occur at 70-110 km depth and 700-900°C and we hypothesize that these arrivals are caused by a low-velocity metasomatic layer containing phlogopite resulting from magma crystallization products that accumulate within long-lived thick lithosphere.
- Lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary
- Mantle temperature
- Mid-lithosphere discontinuity
- Receiver function