Distinct crustal isostasy trends east and west of the Rocky Mountain Front

Brandon Schmandt, Fan-Chi Lin, Karl E. Karlstrom

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102 Scopus citations


© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Seismic structure beneath the contiguous U.S. was imaged with multimode receiver function stacking and inversion of Rayleigh wave dispersion and ellipticity measurements. Crust thickness and elevation are weakly correlated across the contiguous U.S., but the correlation is ∼3-4 times greater for separate areas east and west of the Rocky Mountain Front (RMF). Greater lower crustal shear velocities east of the RMF, particularly in low-elevation areas with thick crust, are consistent with deep crustal density as the primary cause of the contrasting crust thickness versus elevation trends. Separate eastern and western trends are best fit by Airy isostasy models that assume lower crust to uppermost mantle density increases of 0.18 g/cm3 and 0.40 g/cm3, respectively. The former value is near the minimum that is plausible for felsic lower crust. Location of the transition at the RMF suggests that Laramide to post-Laramide processes reduced western U.S. lower crustal density.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10,290-10,298
Number of pages1
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 14 2015
Externally publishedYes


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