Seismic Imaging of a Granitoid-Greenstone Boundary in the Paleoarchean Pilbara Craton

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Virginia Tech


The mode of tectonics by which early Archean proto-continents were deformed was investigated in the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia, which has not been substantially tectonically deformed since ~3.2 Ga. The craton consists of a unique dome and keel structure where vertical, low-grade metamorphism basaltic greenstone keels surround large granitic (TTG) domes. The dominant model for 3.5-3.2 Ga deformation in the Pilbara is gravity-driven vertical tectonics, or partial convective overturn in a hot crust. In this model, the granitic bodies rose upward as solid-state diapirs, and the greenstones "sagducted" downward around the granitic bodies. Australian scientists acquired deep seismic reflection data crossing a granitoid-greenstone boundary. Their processing did not image the geologically mapped steep dip of the boundary because standard methods limit the maximum dip. A 37-km section of these data were reprocessed using 2D Kirchhoff prestack depth migration to include vertical dips. The western half of the migrated section images a granitoid dome with weak to no reflectivity that extends deeper than 4 km. The eastern half images 2-3 km of layered volcanic rocks of the Fortescue Group overlying the greenstones. Seismic velocity models created using travel-time tomography suggest a thin weathering layer overlying slightly fractured crystalline rocks. These fractures close within 200-300 m depth, and velocity reaches bedrock speeds consistent with expected values of granitoids to the west and volcanic rocks of the Fortescue Group to the east. The best migrated image contains several reflections with dips (~45-55˚) cross-cutting each other from both directions at the location of the expected granitoid-greenstone boundary. This strongly suggests the presence of steep dips in the upper ~1.5 km but does not provide a definitive image. This inconclusive result is due to strong surface-wave noise, the crooked 2D seismic line, and the 3D nature of the geologic boundary at the seismic line. A very small seismic velocity gradient within the crystalline bedrock limits the maximum depth to which vertical features can be imaged.



Seismic reflection imaging, steep dips, Kirchhoff migration, Paleoarchean tectonics, Pilbara Craton