Crustal structure of Precambrian terranes in the southern African subcontinent with implications for secular variation in crustal genesis

Marsella Kachingwe, Andrew Nyblade, Jordi Julià

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New estimates of crustal thickness, Poisson's ratio and crustal shear wave velocity have been obtained for 39 stations in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi,Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia by modelling P-wave receiver functions using the H-κ stacking method and jointly inverting the receiver functions with Rayleigh-wave phase and group velocities. These estimates, combined with similar results from previous studies, have been examined for secular trends in Precambrian crustal structure within the southern African subcontinent. In both Archean and Proterozoic terranes we find similar Moho depths [38-39 ± 3 km SD (standard deviation)], crustal Poisson's ratio (0.26 ± 0.01 SD), mean crustal shear wave velocity (3.7 ± 0.1 km s-1 SD), and amounts of heterogeneity in the thickness of the mafic lower crust, as defined by shear wave velocities ≥ 4.0 km s-1. In addition, the amount of variability in these crustal parameters is similar within each individual age grouping as between age groupings. Thus, the results provide little evidence for secular variation in Precambrian crustal structure, including between Meso- and Neoarchean crust. This finding suggests that (1) continental crustal has been generated by similar processes since the Mesoarchean or (2) plate tectonic processes have reworked and modified the crust through time, erasing variations in structure resulting from crustal genesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-547
Number of pages15
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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