The Hoggar swell in Algeria is one of the significant massifs of northwest Africa. The paucity of high-resolution geophysical studies of the crust and mantle beneath the massifs is mostly responsible for the heated debates about the depth of the source region of the Cenozoic volcanism and the closely related uncertainty about the mechanism that formed and maintains the high elevation of the swells. Here we report results from a systematic study of 1386 high-quality receiver functions (RFs) recorded by station TAM, the only permanent broadband seismic station on the Hoggar swell. The resulting crustal thickness is about 34 km and the Vp/Vs is 1.77 when all the RFs from the station are stacked. Our study reveals a sharp contrast in the amplitude of the P-to-S converted phases between the volcanic, highly-fractured Tefedest terrane and the non-volcanic, less fractured Laouni terrane. The former has a stacking amplitude that is comparable to typical cratonic areas, and the latter has an amplitude that is only about 25% as large. Spatially consistent crustal thickness and an intermediate-mafic crust are inferred on the Tefedest terrane, while spatially variable crustal thickness and a felsic crust is inferred beneath the Laouni terrane. The observations can be best explained by a mantle-derived underplated magmatic layer beneath the mechanically-stronger Laouni terrane, and magmatic diking and resultant volcanism associated with the mechanically weaker Tefedest crust. The study demonstrated the significance of a long-running station in the investigation of spatial variations of crustal characteristics.
K. H. Liu and S. S. Gao, "Spatial Variations of Crustal Characteristics beneath the Hoggar Swell, Algeria, Revealed by Systematic Analyses of Receiver Functions from a Single Seismic Station," Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, vol. 11, no. 8, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Aug 2010.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GC003091
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
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