Evidences of a Stalled-Slab beneath the Coast Ranges, California, from Seismicity and Converted Phases


In spite of numerous geophysical studies, the existence and geometry of a stalled slab beneath the Coast Ranges remains vague. In this study we use the distribution of mantle earthquakes and P-to-S converted phases from tilt interfaces to address the problem. Based on the CNSS catalog, in the period between 01/1960 and 04/2001, there were about 450 earthquakes occurred at depth larger than 35 km in the vicinity of the Coast Ranges. When plotted along east-west cross-sections, those earthquakes show a clear slab-like image, similar to the upper part of classic Benioff zones along subducting oceanic slabs. One of such cross-sections, which has a width of 20 km and a latitude of 39N, is located in the so-called 'slabless window' suggested by several previous geologic and geophysic studies, implying the existence of a stalled-slab along the cross-section. The mantle earthquakes can be explained as the result of stress concentration caused by heterogeneities in elastic properties associated with the cold slab, and of changes in mineralogical phases in the upper-most mantle in and around the slab. The existence of the slab is supported by clear azimuthal variations of the amplitude and arrival time of P-to-S converted phases from a tilt interface at about 70 km depth recorded by a broadband seismic station in the area. Our analysis shows that the converted phase is probably from a subducted oceanic lithosphere dipping to the east. The strike of the slab is approximately parallel to the Coast Ranges.

Meeting Name

AGU Fall Meeting (2001: Dec.10-14, San Francisco, CA)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2001 American Geophysical Union (AGU), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2001

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