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Crustal and uppermost mantle velocity structure beneath northwestern China from seismic ambient noise tomography



In this paper, we conduct ambient noise seismic tomography of northwestern China and adjacent regions. The data include 9 months (2009 January to 2009 September) three-component continuous data recorded at 146 seismic stations of newly upgraded China Provincial Digital Seismic Networks and regional Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan networks. Empirical Rayleigh and Love wave Green's functions are obtained from interstation cross-correlations. Group velocity dispersion curves for both Rayleigh and Love waves between 7 and 50 s periods were measured for each interstation path by applying the multiple-filter analysis method with phase-matched processing. The group velocity maps show clear lateral variations which correlate well with major geological structures and tectonic units in the study region. Shear wave velocity structures are inverted from Rayleigh wave and love wave dispersion maps. The results show that the Tibetan Plateau has a very thick crust with a low-velocity zone in its mid-lower crust. Along the northern margin of the plateau where a steep topographic gradient is present, the low-velocity zone does not extend to the Tarim basin which may indicate that crustal materials beneath the Tarim basin are colder and stronger than beneath the plateau, therefore inhibit the extension of mid-lower crustal flow and deformation of the Tibetan Plateau, resulting in very sharp topography contrasts. In the northeastern margin with a gentle topographic gradient toward the Ordos platform, the low-velocity zone diminishes around the eastern KunLun fault. Meanwhile, our results reveal obvious lateral velocity changes in the crust beneath the Tarim basin. In the upper crust, the Manjaer depression in the eastern Tarim basin is featured with very low velocities and the Bachu uplift in the western Tarim basin with high velocities; in the mid-lower crust, the northern Tarim basin in general displays lower velocities than the southern part along latitude ∼40° N with an east–west striking, which is consistent with the high magnetic anomaly zone and may be related to the central suture belt connecting the south and north of Tarim basement blocks together in Pre-Sinian.