Structure and Tectonics of the Continental Crust: Evidence from Deep Seismic Reflection Profiling by Cocorp

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
The past decade has seen a great increase in activity in deep seismic reflection profiling of the continental crust. Some 20 countries have conducted field experiments and the total length of deep seismic profiles surveyed to date is approximately 25,000 km. This total is very large compared to the quantity of such data that existed previously, but very small compared to the total length of seis- mic profiles of the shallow crust carried out for petroleum exploration, which some- times has exceeded 600,000 km on land in one year alone and 1,600,000 km/yr on land and sea. Furthermore, 25,000 km of seismic pro- filing corresponds to exploration of only a tiny fraction of the total volume of the entire continental crust. Thus at this stage of development of the subject, one must be wary of generalizations that are based on these limited data and then ex- tended in scope to include the crust everywhere. The state of the subject is such that virtually every new seismic line reveals totally unexpected seismic fea- tures, a sign that the subject is in its major discovery phase and a warning to the generalizers. Nevertheless, in addition to much new information on deep crustal structure in specific locations, some broad consequences of application of this powerful geophysical technique to a region of the earth not pre- viously explored in this manner are be- coming clear. One is that, as seismic data on the deep continental crust become more abundant and more revealing of complexi- ties, the deep crust can be far better re- lated to rocks at the surface. Conse- quently, the geological style of reason- ing is now being extended from its normal domain of the near-surface to include the deepest crust in a comprehensive story of the evolution of the continents. This change is a subtle but important one and is evident, for example, in some cross sec- tions of the North American Transect Pro- gram, which show surface geology extended in a consistent, though speculative, manner to the top of the mantle. In other words,
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