No mafic layer in 80 km thick Tibetan crust


Wang G., Thybo H. J. , Artemieva I. M.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, vol.12, no.1, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41467-021-21420-z
  • Title of Journal : NATURE COMMUNICATIONS

Abstract

All models of the magmatic and plate tectonic processes that create continental crust predict the presence of a mafic lower crust. Earlier proposed crustal doubling in Tibet and the Himalayas by underthrusting of the Indian plate requires the presence of a mafic layer with high seismic P-wave velocity (V-p>7.0km/s) above the Moho. Our new seismic data demonstrates that some of the thickest crust on Earth in the middle Lhasa Terrane has exceptionally low velocity (V-p<6.7km/s) throughout the whole 80km thick crust. Observed deep crustal earthquakes throughout the crustal column and thick lithosphere from seismic tomography imply low temperature crust. Therefore, the whole crust must consist of felsic rocks as any mafic layer would have high velocity unless the temperature of the crust were high. Our results form basis for alternative models for the formation of extremely thick juvenile crust with predominantly felsic composition in continental collision zones. Crustal doubling in Tibet and the Himalayas by underthrusting of the Indian plate is thought to require the presence of a mafic layer above the Moho. Here, the authors present seismic data which shows that the middle Lhasa Terrane has very low velocity (V-p<6.7km/s) throughout the 80km thick crust, which they suggest is predominantly felsic in composition.