Magmatic underplating and crustal growth in the Emeishan Large Igneous Province, SW China, revealed by a passive seismic experiment
Abstract In an attempt to characterize the subsurface structure that is related to fossil mantle plume activity, a comprehensive geophysical investigation was conducted in the Emeishan Large Igneous Province (ELIP). The nature and geometry of the crust were examined within the scheme of the domal structure of ELIP, which comprises the Inner, Intermediate and Outer zones, which are defined on the basis of the biostratigraphy of pre-volcanic sediments. The bulk crustal properties within the Inner Zone are characterized by high density, high P-wave velocity, high Vp/Vs ratios and large crustal thickness. A visible continuous seismic converter is present in the upper part of the crust in the whole Intermediate Zone and the eastern part of the Inner Zone, but it is absent in the Inner Zone, where another seismic converter is observed in the lower part of the crust. The geometric configuration of these converters is attributable to the addition of mantle-derived melts to the pre-existing crust and subsequent interaction between them. The crustal geometry, which is delineated by the migrated image of receiver functions from the passive seismic experiment, and the crustal properties collectively suggest that a mafic layer of 15–20 km thickness and 150–180 km width exists at the base of the crust in the Inner Zone. Such a mafic layer reflects a vertical crustal growth through magmatic underplating at the base of the crust and intraplating within the upper crust. The salient spatial correlation between the deep crustal structure and the dome strongly supports a genetic link between crustal thickening and plume activity, if the pre-volcanic domal uplift is generated by the Permian Emeishan mantle plume. This arrangement is further supported by the consistency of the extent of crustal uplift estimated by isostatic equilibrium modeling and sedimentary data. This study therefore characterizes and provides evidence for a plume-modified crust in a large igneous province.