Structural controls on localized intraplate deformation and seismicity in Southern Australia: Insights from local earthquake tomography of the Flinders Ranges


Corresponding author: S. Pilia, Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. (


[1] Data from an array of 24 seismometers are used to image the crust beneath the Flinders Ranges, southeast Australia, with the goal of improving our understanding of crustal structure, rheology, and the mechanism responsible for the localized intraplate deformation that characterizes this region. A subset of P- and S-wave traveltimes is inverted to jointly recover earthquake hypocenters, P-wave velocity structure and vp/vs anomalies. The P-wave velocity model reveals a spatial correlation between major negative velocity perturbations and concentrations of seismicity. In particular, a cluster of seismicity is observed within a distinct low velocity region between the Archean-Mesoproterozoic Gawler Craton and the Palaeo-Mesoproterozoic Curnamona Province, from 7 to 20 km depth. We postulate that this may be associated with a pre-existing structural weakness in the crust that arises primarily from rifting between the Curnamona Province and the Gawler Craton. Another area characterized by a high level of seismicity overlies a major sequence of N-S trending Ross-Delamerian thrust faults, which correspond to a band of low vp and particularly vp/vs. The lack of evidence for elevated heat flows in both of these seismogenic regions suggests that thermally induced weakness is unlikely to play a dominant role. Instead, the dynamic behavior of this intraplate region appears to be caused by a serendipitously oriented regional stress field, provided by far field forces that originate from the boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates, which acts upon preexisting structural weaknesses in the lithosphere.