Geophysical evidence for the evolution of the Inner California Continental Borderlands as a metamorphic core complex

Uri S. ten Brink, Jie Zhang, Thomas M. Brocher, David A. Okaya, Kim D. Klitgord, & Gary S. Fuis

Published 2000, SCEC Contribution #486

We use new seismic and gravity data collected during the 1994 Los Angeles Region Seismic Experiment (LARSE) to discuss the origin of the California Inner Continental Borderland (ICB) as an extended terrain possibly in a metamorphic core complex mode. The data provide detailed crustal structure of the Borderland and its transition to mainland southern California. Using tomographic inversion as well as traditional forward ray tracing to model the wide-angle seismic data, we find little or no sediments, low (≤6.6 km/s) P wave velocity extending down to the crust-mantle boundary, and a thin crust (19 to 23 km thick). Coincident multichannel seismic reflection data show a reflective lower crust under Catalina Ridge. Contrary to other parts of coastal California, we do not find evidence for an underplated fossil oceanic layer at the base of the crust. Coincident gravity data suggest an abrupt increase in crustal thickness under the shelf edge, which represents the transition to the western Transverse Ranges. On the shelf the Palos Verdes Fault merges downward into a landward dipping surface which separates “basement” from low-velocity sediments, but interpretation of this surface as a detachment fault is inconclusive. The seismic velocity structure is interpreted to represent Catalina Schist rocks extending from top to bottom of the crust. This interpretation is compatible with a model for the origin of the ICB as an autochthonous formerly hot highly extended region that was filled with the exhumed metamorphic rocks. The basin and ridge topography and the protracted volcanism probably represent continued extension as a wide rift until ∼13 m.y. ago. Subduction of the young and hot Monterey and Arguello microplates under the Continental Borderland, followed by rotation and translation of the western Transverse Ranges, may have provided the necessary thermomechanical conditions for this extension and crustal inflow.

ten Brink, U. S., Zhang, J., Brocher, T. M., Okaya, D. A., Klitgord, K. D., & Fuis, G. S. (2000). Geophysical evidence for the evolution of the Inner California Continental Borderlands as a metamorphic core complex. Journal of Geophysical Research, 105(B3), 5835-5857.