Tomographic image of the Mid-Atlantic Plate Boundary in southwestern Iceland

Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason, William Menke, Ólafur G. Flóvenz, David Caress

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The 170 km South Iceland Seismic Tomography (SIST) profile extends from the west and across the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge spreading center in the Western Volcanic Zone and continues obliquely through the transform zone (the South Iceland Seismic Zone) to the western edge of the Eastern Volcanic Zone. A total of 11 shot points and 210 receiver points were used, allowing precise travel times to be determined for 1050 crustal P wave rays and 180 wide‐angle reflections. The large amplitudes of the wide‐angle reflections and an apparent refractor velocity of 7.7 km/s are interpreted to be from a relatively sharp Moho at a depth of 20–24 km. This interpretation differs from the earlier models (based on data gathered in the 1960s and 1970s), of a 10–15 km thick crust underlain by a upper mantle with very slow velocity of 7.0–7.4 km/s. Nevertheless, these older data do not contradict our new interpretation. Implication of the new interpretation is that the lower crust and the crust‐mantle boundary are colder than previously assumed. A two‐dimensional tomographic inversion of the compressional travel times reveals the following structures in the crust: (1) a sharp increase in thickness of the upper crust (“layer 2A”) from northwest to southeast and (2) broad updoming of high velocity in the lower crust in the Western Volcanic Zone, (3) depth to the lower crust (“layer 3”) increases gradually from 3 km at the northwestern end of the profile to 7 km at the southeastern end of the profile, (4) a low‐velocity perturbation extends throughout the upper crust and midcrust into the lower crust in the area of the transform in south Iceland (South Iceland Seismic Zone), and (5) an upper crustal high‐velocity anomaly is associated with extinct central volcanos northwest of the Western Volcanic Zone. The travel time data do not support the existence of a large (> 0.5 km thick) crustal magma chamber in this part of the Western Volcanic Zone but do not exclude the possibility of a smaller one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6607-6622
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue numberB4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 1993

Other keywords

  • Jarðfræði
  • Eldvirkni
  • Jarðskorpa
  • Jarðmöttull
  • Mælingar
  • Sneiðmyndatökur
  • Suðvesturland
  • Ísland
  • Jarðskjálftavirkni


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