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Tectonophysics 358 (2002) 1 – 15


Processes of lithosphere evolution: new evidence on the structure

of the continental crust and uppermost mantle
Irina M. Artemieva a,*, Walter D. Mooney b, Edward Perchuc c, Hans Thybo d
Institut de Physique du Globe, EOST, 5, Rue Rene Descartes, Strasbourg cedex F-67084, France
U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA, USA
Institute of Geophysics, Warsaw, Poland
Geological Institute, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark


We discuss the structure of the continental lithosphere, its physical properties, and the mechanisms that formed and modified it
since the early Archean. The structure of the upper mantle and the crust is derived primarily from global and regional seismic
tomography studies of Eurasia and from global and regional data on seismic anisotropy. These data as documented in the papers of
this special issue of Tectonophysics are used to illustrate the role of different tectonic processes in the lithospheric evolution since
Archean to present. These include, but are not limited to, cratonization, terrane accretion and collision, continental rifting (both
passive and active), subduction, and lithospheric basal erosion due to a relative motion of cratonic keels and the convective mantle.
D 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Lithosphere; Crust; Mantle

1. Introduction tinental lithosphere, its physical properties, and the

mechanisms that have formed and modified it. The
The determination of the structure and composition volume is a result of discussion at two symposia
of the lithosphere has challenged geologists and geo- (SE17 and SE18) at the European Geophysical Soci-
physicists for decades. Initial work defined the ety (EGS) Annual Meeting in 2000 in Nice. Contri-
mechanical properties of the lithosphere, while recent butions at these symposia included global and
studies have measured many other physical parame- regional tomographic studies, seismic imaging of
ters. Key characteristics such as anisotropy, scattering, lithospheric discontinuities, studies of seismic aniso-
discontinuities and low-velocity zones (LVZs) within tropy in the crust and the upper mantle, investigations
the lithosphere of cold cratonic regions are still much of the thermal state of the lithosphere, and analyses of
debated. the Earth’s gravity field.
This special issue of Tectonophysics is devoted The papers presented in this volume provide the
primarily to discussions of the structure of the con- reader with a meaningful perspective into this fascinat-
ing branch of Earth Science. Their main focus and
* Corresponding author. contributions are outlined below and the regions dis-
E-mail address: cussed are shown in Fig. 1. Six of the 12 papers com-
(I.M. Artemieva). prising the volume cover global and regional seismic

0040-1951/02/$ - see front matter D 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 4 0 - 1 9 5 1 ( 0 2 ) 0 0 5 3 0 - 9
2 I.M. Artemieva et al. / Tectonophysics 358 (2002) 1–15

tomography studies, including P- and S-wave veloc- A chemically distinct composition of the Archean
ities, with the focus on the structure of the upper mantle lithosphere, which is depleted in Ti and Ca and has
in areas of Eurasia and of the continental rifts. The high Mg/Fe ratio (e.g. Boyd, 1989), suggests that it
interpretation of seismic anisotropy within the crust formed under unique conditions, which did not exist
and upper mantle has become a leading topic over the in the post-Archean time. Campbell and Griffiths
past 10 years. Four of the papers presented in this (1992) argue that basal plume accretion could have
volume provide further evidence for the pervasive role been important for the formation of the oldest
played by this important physical property. Two papers Archean continental nuclei (Fig. 2A). For example,
in the volume focus on seismic imaging of lithospheric Re – Os isotope studies of the lithospheric mantle at
discontinuities and present a global overview of the Lac de Gras, Slave Craton, suggest that the deepest
processes of possible lithosphere basal erosion. part of the lithosphere was derived from the lower
The results reported in these 12 papers provide the mantle by plume subcretion at 3.4 – 3.3 Ga (Aulbach
basis for a refined understanding of the structure of et al., 2001). Very deep melting (10 – 20 GPa) in the
the continental crust and uppermost mantle as well as early Archean plumes (Herzberg, 1995) and high
processes of the evolution of the continental litho- mantle temperatures (Abbott et al., 1994) could have
sphere, such as cratonization, accretion, rifting, colli- produced a high degree of melting in the rising
sion, subduction, and back-arc spreading. Here we magma (>30%) to form thick lithospheric keels, as
present a brief discussion of the role of these pro- suggested by the abundance of Archean greenstones.
cesses in the lithosphere evolution as documented by At present, the Precambrian lithosphere commonly
new results reported in this volume. has a unique thickness, perhaps almost reaching the
410-km discontinuity beneath some of the Archean
cratons, as indicated by global seismic tomography
2. Lithosphere of Archean Cratons: its formation, and thermal models (e.g. Zhang and Tanimoto, 1993;
structure, and role in plate motion Grand, 1994; Artemieva and Mooney, 2001). Arte-
mieva and Mooney (this volume) postulate that an
The age of the oldest continental lithosphere (e.g., early Archean supercontinent could have had 450-km-
Siberian craton, South Africa, and Western Australia) thick lithosphere and present a global summary of the
is >3.0 Ga, as revealed by studies of Sm – Nd and Re – present-day lithospheric thickness, with particular
Os isotopes in diamond inclusions—the minerals that reference to the continental cratons (Fig. 1). Their
do not recrystallize during later tectonic events and analysis indicates that the horizontal and vertical
thus provide the original age of the subcrustal litho- dimensions of the cratons are correlated, so that larger
sphere down to a depth of >200 km (e.g. Richardson cratons have thicker lithosphere.
et al., 1993; Carlson et al., 1994). As argued by Regional seismic tomography studies support the
Condie (1997), it is not clear if the model ages record existence of very thick ( f 300 km) lithospheric keels
the formation time of the continental lithosphere or beneath the Precambrian cratons (Ritsema and van
rather the age of metasomatic events associated with Heijst, 2000; Simons et al., 1999). In this volume,
cratonization. However, petrological studies of xen- Bushenkova et al. present the results of recent tomog-
oliths from kimberlite pipes of South Africa (Pearson, raphy studies of the upper mantle structure in central
1999) indicate that the entire lithospheric column of Siberia (which includes the Archean to early Proter-
the cratonic keel down to depths of at least 220 – 250 ozoic Siberian craton and the Paleozoic West Siberian
km was formed during a relatively short time interval Basin), based on a new method of seismic inversion.
by a fast tectono-magmatic event, rather than by This method, called the RR-R scheme, uses teleseis-
gradual addition of new lithospheric material to the mic P- and S-wave arrivals in combination with their
lithospheric base over a long period of time. More- corresponding PP or SS arrivals that have surface
over, isotopic ages indicate that the mantle lithosphere reflection points in the study region. This method has
of the cratons and the overlying crust were formed at the advantage that it can be used in areas with no
the same time and since then remained attached stations or earthquakes. The results of the inversion
(Carlson et al., 1994; Pearson et al., 1995). show several interesting features of lithospheric struc-
I.M. Artemieva et al. / Tectonophysics 358 (2002) 1–15
Fig. 1. Regions discussed in this paper and in this volume. Boxes show the specific areas of investigations. Abbreviations: A—Armorican Massif; B—the Belarus Belt; BR—Baikal
Rift; BRP—Basin and Range Province; C—Caucasus; K—Kopet – Dagh; KK—Kola-Karelian Province of the Baltic Shield; R—Rhine Graben; RG—Rio Grande Rift; SF—Sveco-
Fennian Province of the Baltic Shield; TD—Tunguska depression; TSh—Tien Shan; W—Wyoming Craton.

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bottom of the LVZ at a depth of f 175 – 185 km 3. Precambrian plate tectonics: lithosphere growth
coincides with the maximal depth extent of the middle by accretion and subduction
Siberia. In part
particular, positive
of cratonic seismic velocity
lithospheric roots. includes a low-viscosity zone extending from the base
anomalies (this
Commonly, f 1%)
depth down to the
is also a depth
minimalof f 350 km of
thickness are ofRecent
the elastic lithosphere toseismic
LITHOPROBE the 660-km discontinuity
reflection studies
Archean with the which
lithosphere, Archean has– early
not beenProterozoic
reworkedSibe- or across the Archean
(e.g. Lambeck Superior
et al., 1998); Province and western
these models may not
rian craton. Thinner
metasomatised by laterlithosphere ( f 300
tectonic events. Thus,km)seismic
is esti- margin of the
accurately Canadian
resolve Shield
both the (e.g.range
depth Clowes et al.,
of the low-
mated with
models for the Precambrian
the LVZ Tunguss
in the upper mantledepression.
beneath 1998; Cooklayer
viscosity et al,and
1999)the indicate
the tectonics
Negative relative
Precambrian cratonsvelocity
a hypothesis are of
found in the
Stoddard operated
anomaly,already in theevaluate
but instead early Archean (Calvert effect.
their integrated et al.,
and lithosphere
(1996)of that
the Paleozoic West Siberian
the Proterozoic basin,
part of litho- 1995; Condie,
Seismic and1997; Aulbach et
seismological al., 2001),
evidence though
for the exis-
but cankeels,
spheric be partly attributed
typically to poor within
positioned verticaltheresolution
depth probably in aLVZ
tence of the somewhat different
in the Earth’s mantlewaybelow
than atoday
of the of
interval 120 – 180
model. However,
km, isitlikely
is possible
to assistthatthe Permo-
plate (Bailey, 1999).
of ca. 100 kmHowever,
has beenstructures
found informed
many during
Triassic back-arc extension in the West Siberian Basin studies, for example, in North America and Europe
(Kusznir and Ziegler, 1992) was associated with (Burdick, 1981; Zielhuis and Nolet, 1994), the Sibe-
passive upper mantle upwelling. rian Craton (Nielsen et al., 1999), and Tibet (Roma-
The question of how thick lithospheric keels could nowicz, 1982; Zeng et al., 1995). Anderson (1989)
have survived since the Precambrian is addressed by mentions that ‘‘the pronounced minimum in the group
Artemieva and Mooney (this volume), who analyze velocity of long-period mantle Rayleigh waves is one
the basal drag model of lithospheric erosion. They of the classical arguments for the presence of an
investigate the hypothesis that plate motion influences upper-mantle low-velocity zone’’. In the fifties, the
the structure of deep lithospheric keels by examining LVZ was believed by seismologists to be a global
the correlation between thickness of Precambrian feature. In discussions of the 20j (400 km) disconti-
continental lithosphere and plate velocity. The analy- nuity, Gutenberg (1954) proposed ‘‘a shadow zone
sis shows that plates with thicker Archean keels move caused by a low velocity zone centered at 100 – 150
slower. The deepest, Archean, part of the lithospheric km depth’’. In subsequent studies, however, much of
keels, extending below the LVZ to depths of 200 – 350 the attention has been shifted to the major, deeper
km resists plate motion and is affected by basal discontinuities at the mantle transition region, and
erosion. Basal drag may have varied in magnitude over studies of the LVZ in the uppermost mantle became
the past 4 Ga because high mantle temperatures in the less popular, partly because of uncertainties in its
Archean would have resulted in low mantle viscosity. detection.
This in turn would have reduced basal drag and basal The base of the LVZ, the Lehmann discontinuity,
erosion, and promoted the preservation of thick (>300 was first interpreted from earthquake data beneath
km) Archean keels, even if plate veloc- ities were high Europe and from GNOME nuclear explosion data
during the Archean. However, Stod- dard and Abbott beneath the North American craton and was found
(1996) argue that, on the contrary, the Proterozoic part to be at ca. 220 km depth (Lehmann, 1961, 1962).
of the cratonic lithospheric keels assists plate However, the existence of a seismic discontinuity at
motion, if located within seismic low- velocity (and this depth had already been proposed by Galitzin in
low-viscosity) zone in the upper mantle. 1917. For several years, the Lehmann discontinuity
The structure and the very existence of this LVZ in was considered to be a global boundary at f 200 km
the cold upper mantle beneath the Precambrian cra- depth until it was suggested that it is a local feature,
tons is a subject of debate. Models of isostatic post- which is observed under oceans twice less often than
glacial rebounds in northeastern Canada and Fenno- in cratonic areas (e.g. Gu et al., 2001). Recent
scandia imply that a low-viscosity layer may be interpretations of the nature of the Lehmann disconti-
present in the upper mantle beneath the cratons (e.g. nuity include an abrupt change in anisotropy of the
Peltier, 1974). Some models based on inversion of mantle rocks (Gaherty and Jordan, 1995) or the base
relative sea-level changes require a low-viscosity of the zone of partial melting within stable continental
asthenosphere only in the peripheral parts of Fenno- lithosphere (Lambert and Wyllie, 1970; Hales, 1991;
scandia, but not beneath the cratonic part (Kaufmann Thybo and Perchuc, 1997).
and Wu, 2002). However, models of depth-distribu- Xenolith studies (e.g. Boyd and Gurney, 1986;
tion of mantle viscosity are strongly dependent on the Griffin et al., 1999) and global thermal modeling
assumed lithospheric structure, which typically (Artemieva and Mooney, 2001) indicate that the
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bottom of the LVZ at a depth of f 175 – 185 km 3. Precambrian plate tectonics: lithosphere growth
coincides with the maximal depth extent of the middle by accretion and subduction
to late Proterozoic part of cratonic lithospheric roots.
Commonly, this depth is also the minimal thickness of Recent LITHOPROBE seismic reflection studies
Archean lithosphere, which has not been reworked or across the Archean Superior Province and western
metasomatised by later tectonic events. Thus, seismic margin of the Canadian Shield (e.g. Clowes et al.,
models with the LVZ in the upper mantle beneath 1998; Cook et al, 1999) indicate that plate tectonics
Precambrian cratons support a hypothesis of Stoddard operated already in the early Archean (Calvert et al.,
and Abbott (1996) that the Proterozoic part of litho- 1995; Condie, 1997; Aulbach et al., 2001), though
spheric keels, typically positioned within the depth probably in a somewhat different way than today
interval of 120 – 180 km, is likely to assist the plate (Bailey, 1999). However, structures formed during
motion as it is located within a rheologically weak early to middle Proterozoic collision appear similar
part of the upper mantle. to the present-day tectonics (BABEL Working Group,
Two papers in this volume address the structure of 1990). The oldest known accretionary orogens, docu-
the LVZ in the upper mantle, examining seismic data mented by petrotectonic assemblages, are 4.0 – 3.9 Ga
for the platform areas of Eurasia. Abramovitz et al. old (in northwestern Canada and southwestern Green-
(this volume) use tomographic inversion of P- and S- land), whereas the oldest collisional orogens are of the
wave velocities to determine the structure of the upper early Proterozoic age (in northwestern Canada and
mantle of the Baltic shield along the long-range deep Western Australia). Zones of relict subduction are
seismic sounding profile FENNOLORA. The authors revealed by seismic reflection studies in other conti-
attribute observed pronounced scattering and delay in nental regions; for example, pre-Caledonian oceanic
travel times of seismic P- and S-wave phases together subduction is evident in bright continuous seismic
with strong attenuation of S-wave phases beyond reflectors within the lower part of Precambrian litho-
f 800 km offset to a LVZ at a depth below f 100 sphere offshore north of Scotland (Warner et al., 1996).
km. No refracted S-wave phases are observed beyond Subduction provides an efficient mechanism of
1200 km offset, which is attributed to strong S-wave lithosphere destruction and recycling within the man-
attenuation within the zone below f 100 km depth. tle. Besides, it implies that mechanisms other than
The authors interpret these features as indications of basal lithospheric accretion by mantle plumes were
the presence of rocks close to the melting point, or responsible for the formation of the submarine pla-
small amounts of partial melts, or possibly free fluids, teaux of the early continental lithosphere. These
in the 100- to 150-km-depth interval. include underplating of buoyantly subducted slabs
Nielsen et al. (this volume) come to similar con- around the perimeters of pre-existing lithospheric
clusions in their study of the lithosphere of Eurasia by fragments (Fig. 2C) and collision of oceanic terranes
modeling seismic scattering along the 3500-km-long (such as submarine plateaux and island arcs) (Fig. 2B)
Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) profile Kraton with pre-existing continental margins (Abbott and
(Fig. 1). Their preferred seismic velocity model Mooney, 1995; Rudnick, 1995). Both of these pro-
includes random velocity fluctuations with horizontal cesses would contribute to lateral growth of the
scale of 5 – 10 km, thickness less than 5 km, and continental nuclei and lithospheric thickening.
standard deviation of 2% from background velocity. It The well-preserved Kaapvaal craton of South
agrees with an upper mantle model in which an Africa provides evidence that continental fragments
inhomogeneous low-velocity scattering layer at were amalgamated in the Archean by processes sim-
depths of between 100 and 185 km may contain small ilar to the modern plate tectonics (De Wit et al., 1992).
amounts of partially molten material. Alternatively, Two papers in this volume on seismic and gravity
the authors suggest that the combined effects of studies of the Baltic Shield and the western part of the
rheological weakening and small-scale anisotropy East European Platform provide support for the
may also account for the low-velocity scattering layer hypothesis of Percival and Williams (1989) that
(with an observed f 1% velocity reduction compared accretion of oceanic terranes could have been an
to layers above and below it). important global process of continental lithosphere
I.M. Artemieva et al. / Tectonophysics 358 (2002) 1–15
Fig. 2. Major processes of lithosphere formation and modification in Archean and post-Archean time. Early continental lithosphere (right) (with the focus on processes characteristic
of the Archean). (A) Assembly of continental nuclei above hot mantle plumes, originating from a depth of 660 km, and generation of first giant dyke swarms. (B) Growth of an
Archean craton by the accretion of submarine plateaux. (C) Growth of Archean continental crust by melting within the slab wedge during buoyant subduction. Post-Archean (left)
(with the focus on processes that did not operate during the Archean). (D) Rifting and basalt underplating caused by lower mantle plumes. (E) Collisional orogens, continental
subduction and lithosphere detachment. (F) Crustal growth by melting in the mantle wedge during steep subduction. Some subducted slabs sink into the lower mantle.
LAB = lithosphere – asthenosphere boundary; M = crustal base.
7 I.M.
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growth in the Precambrian (EUROBRIDGE Seismic Shield at one of the terrane boundaries by the BABEL
Working Group, 1999). Working Group (1990). Seismic reflection studies at
Kozlovskaya et al. (this volume) combine seismic the Lac de Gras area of the western Canadian Shield
anisotropy and gravity in an integrated study of the (Cook et al., 1999) indicate that the Central Slave
deep structure of the crust in the Belarus Belt (which basement complex (>3.4 Ga) underlies the 2.7-Ga-old
is a part of one of the fundamental sutures within the crust of the arc-accreted Contwoyto terranes, which
East European Craton) (Fig. 1) along the EURO- was interpreted by Aulbach et al. (2001) as evidence
BRIDGE’96 seismic refraction profile. Based on the for Precambrian ( f 2.8 Ga) subduction. Thus, the
seismic structure, this paper documents evidence for results of seismic studies in North America and
two sub-terranes within a 2.0- to 1.9-Ga Paleoproter- Eurasia suggest that subduction and terrane accretion
ozoic terrane with contrasting metamorphic and mag- were worldwide phenomena already in the Archean –
matic histories. The suture between the sub-terranes is early Proterozoic time.
believed to mark a zone along which the SE sub-
terrane was stacked and compressed during late
Archean (1.95 – 1.8 Ga) subduction of oceanic crust 4. Phanerozoic plate tectonics: collisional orogens
beneath the Sarmatia protocontinent (Taran and Bog- and subduction beneath Eurasia
danova, 2001). Seismic anisotropy in the middle crust
of these sub-terranes is proposed to explain a high P- Seismic tomography studies, pioneered by the
wave velocity anomaly that does not correspond to a works of Aki et al. (1977), Dziewonski (1984), and
positive gravity anomaly. Woodhouse and Dziewonski (1984) show structures
Abramovitz et al. (this volume) analyze lateral that strikingly resemble predictions from models of
variations in the Vp/Vs ratio of the crust and uppermost large-scale mantle processes, including the accretion
mantle of the Baltic Shield along the FENNOLORA of terranes, rifting, and continent – continent or con-
profile (Fig. 1) and correlate them with Proterozoic tinent – ocean collision (indicated by elongated high-
terranes, which collided and were amalgamated dur- velocity anomalies) (Fig. 2, D – F). Global whole-
ing the Precambrian plate tectonic events that led to mantle tomography models (for a recent review, see
the assemblage of the Baltic shield. The largest Vp/Vs Montagner, 1994) reveal correlations between the
contrasts are observed at the boundaries between structure of the upper mantle and plate tectonics.
terranes of different ages, that is, (a) between the These results stimulated regional tomography studies,
Kola-Karelian and Sveco-Fennian provinces and (b) which potentially may link the present-day mantle
between the Sveco-Fennian province and the Trans- velocity structure to past tectonic events.
Scandinavian Igneous belt. A recent theoretical study Reconstruction of the location of paleo-subduction
(Takei, 2002) shows that the Vp/Vs ratio is sensitive zones provides independent constraints for paleogeog-
not only to the presence of fluids and melts, but also raphy (e.g. Bunge and Grand, 2000) and for mantle
to the pore geometry. Thus, Vp/Vs variations in the convection models (e.g. Chase and Sprowl, 1983).
crust can be indicative of a different rock texture in Recent high-resolution P-wave and S-wave tomogra-
crustal terranes. phy studies of the circum-Pacific subduction zones (for
An important question is the geometry of the a detailed review, see Fukao et al., 2001) indicate that
transition between terranes of different ages, as it most of the subducted slabs are deflected near the 660-
permits us to speculate on the tectonic processes by km discontinuity, in support of the hypothesis of
which they were amalgamated. The results of Abra- subhorizontal flow in the mantle transition zone. How-
movitz et al. (this volume) show that in the Baltic ever, some positive seismic velocity anomalies that
Shield, the boundaries between the Precambrian ter- may relate to subducting slabs reach deeper into the
ranes are not vertical, for example the Proterozoic lower mantle (Fig. 2F) (Van der Hilst et al., 1997). This
Sveco-Fennian province underlies the NW part of the result has important implications for mantle convec-
Archean Kola-Karelian block. A dipping structure, tion models (whole-mantle, layered, or hybrid) and
resembling modern subduction, was imaged in deep supports the idea of episodic catastrophic overturns in
seismic reflection profiles in the northern Baltic the mantle (e.g. Condie, 1998), associated with sinking
8 I.M.
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growth in the Precambrian (EUROBRIDGE Seismic Shield at one of the terrane boundaries by the BABEL
Working Group, 1999). Working Group (1990). Seismic reflection studies at
the slabs to a compositionally heterogeneous
et al. (this volume) layer at
combine seismic thatLac
the thedeArmorican
Gras arealithosphere consists
of the western of juxtaposed
Canadian Shield
1700 – 2300
anisotropy andkmgravity
depth in(Van der Hilst and
an integrated studyKarason,
of the distinctetlithospheric
(Cook al., 1999) blocks,
that were assembled
the Central in a
deep or to the
structure of core – mantle
the crust boundary,
in the Belarus which in turn
Belt (which collision-related
basement complexsubduction-type process
(>3.4 Ga) underlies thethat predated
a partinitiate
of onelarge mantle
of the plumes (Davies,
fundamental 1995).the
sutures within the Hercynian
crust orogeny. Contwoyto terranes, which
of the arc-accreted
European subduction
Craton) (Fig.zones 1) have
along been imaged
the EURO- was Geological
interpreted and geophysical
by Aulbach evidence
et al. (2001) indicates
as evidencethat
beneath several
BRIDGE’96 continents;
seismic at present,
refraction many of
profile. Based on them
the Phanerozoic
for Precambrian plate
( ftectonic
2.8 Ga)processes
subduction.are Thus,
are located
seismic very far
structure, thisfrom thedocuments
paper continentalevidence
margins.forFor those that
results operatedstudies
of seismic in the Precambrian.
in North America The Cordil-
two a pronounced
sub-terranes within avelocity anomaly
2.0- to 1.9-Ga that may be
Paleoproter- leran and
Eurasia Appalachian
suggest orogensand
that subduction in North
accretion are
correlated with the Farallon slab beneath North Amer- Phanerozoic examples of collisional growth of a con-
ica is clearly seen in a regional S-wave model at a tinent by accretion of oceanic terranes at convergent
distance of f 2000 km from the present Pacific margin plate boundaries (Condie and Chomiak, 1996). Recent
(Van der Lee and Nolet, 1997). Besides typical oceanic studies using seismic reflection and refraction methods
subduction zones, continental subduction zones can together with receiver functions have revealed details
develop in regions of strong compressional tectonics of the subducting oceanic slab under the South Amer-
(Fig. 2E). Van der Voo et al. (1999b) present a tomo- ican continent and indicated the role of the subduction
graphic cross section of the subduction region of the process in the formation of the Andean orogen
Indo-Australian plate beneath the Himalayas. Besides (ANCORP Working Group, 1999). Metamorphic pro-
this well-known subduction zone in Eurasia, another cesses are found to have strong influence on the
fast seismic velocity anomaly at depths below 1500 km seismic reflection properties of the subducting slab
beneath Siberia (Bjiwaard et al., 1998) was interpreted and, surprisingly, also on the location of major earth-
as a paleo-subducted slab (Van der Voo et al., 1999a). quakes, which are concentrated within the slab but not
The present volume includes several papers on at its upper boundary (Yuan et al., 2000).
tomographic studies of the collisional orogens in Bushenkova et al. (this volume) observe a mosaic
Eurasia and of ancient subduction zones. Judenherc pattern of velocity anomalies in the Altai-Sayan region
et al. (this volume) provide an example of Phanerozoic of Central Asia (Fig. 1). High-velocity anomalies are
continental growth in Europe. They study lithospheric interpreted as either thick, cold cratonic lithosphere or
heterogeneities in the Hercynian Range in western cold sinking lithospheric slabs; low-velocity anomalies
France, which was formed during the collision of are correlated with either thin lithosphere or mantle
Gondwana and Laurasia (250 – 400 Ma). The authors upwellings, for example, in continental rift zones. A
seek answers to the questions: Does the lithosphere NW – SE trend of velocity anomalies in Central Asia
beneath the old orogens keep the signature of past corresponds to the orientation of the terranes accreted
geodynamic events? Do the tectonic features extend to the Siberian craton in the Paleozoic (late Devonian)
through the whole lithosphere? The authors present a (Molnar and Tapponnier, 1975; Sengör et al., 1993).
3-D P-wave velocity model of the Armorican Massif Koulakov et al. (this volume) focus their tomo-
(Fig. 1) down to f 150 km depth and a map of S-wave graphic studies on the structure and dynamics of the
seismic anisotropy at depth from teleseismic S-wave upper mantle beneath the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic
splitting measurements. They find that the lithosphere belt at depths between 100 and 500 km. The tomo-
beneath the Hercynian range consists of two seismo- graphic maps show pronounced traces of subducted
logically distinct domains. High (4 – 5%) P-wave slabs in the regions of Hellenides, the Cretan arc, the
velocity anomaly and a strike-parallel fast S-wave Hindukush, and Burma, where past subduction is
velocity characterize the South-Armorican lithosphere, confirmed by independent data. In other regions they
whereas the North-Amorican lithosphere has lower find similar, but less-certain, evidence of subduction;
velocity and does not show sign of any significant for example, positive anomalies in the western part of
anisotropy. The authors attribute 1 – 2% of the velocity the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt are attributed to
difference at depths below 90 km to a compositional subduction in the area of Cyprus and along the
difference between the South-Armorican and the Caucasus-Kopet-Dagh-Lut plate.
North-Armorican lithospheric domains. The tomo- Recent seismic studies in the Himalayan-Tibetian
graphic image and the seismic anisotropy data suggest area have provided evidence for subduction of the
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continental lithosphere of the Indian plate under the The seismic tomography results of Koulakov et al.
Asian plate (Kosarev et al., 1999). Together with the and Ritzwoller et al. (this volume) outline zones of past
results of controlled source seismology (Nelson et al., subduction beneath the Mediterranean region, the
1996), evidence is found for extensive melting of the Alpine-Himalayan zone, and Central Asia. The loca-
upper crust beneath the Tibetian plateau. The tomo- tion of these seismic anomalies in the upper mantle
graphic maps of Koulakov et al. (this volume) show correlates with globally reconstructed subduction
velocity anomalies indicative of the subducted Indian zones for the past 200 Ma, based on a compilation of
slab under the western Himalayas. Beneath the east- finite plate rotations (Richards and Engebretson,
ern Himalayas, low seismic velocities in the upper 1992). The latter study implies that subduction along
mantle indicate high temperatures. Zones of sinking convergent boundaries has been active in the Hima-
lithosphere (subduction) are likewise traceable around layan zone for the past f 120 Ma, across the Middle
the Tarim block in Central Asia. In agreement with East, Arabia and southern Asia for the past f 90 Ma,
Bushenkova et al. (this volume), Koulakov et al. (this and in the Mediterranean region for the past f 60 Ma.
volume) note that a strong small-size low-velocity
anomaly in Mongolia is apparently related to the
Hangai plume, which has been inferred from other 5. Break-up of continental lithosphere: role of
geological and geophysical evidence. However, mantle plumes in rifting
recent gravity modeling (Petit et al., 2002) shows
that dome topography and xenolith data can be fitted Deep mantle processes lead to episodic continental
by a low-density 600-km-wide body at a depth of growth and formation of super-continents, as reflected
100 – 200 km, which may not be associated with a in episodic age distributions of granitoids and green-
mantle plume. stone belts (e.g. McLennan and Taylor, 1985; Condie,
Ritzwoller et al. (this volume) present results of a 1998) that correlate with the ages of large igneous
seismic tomography study of Eurasia motivated by a provinces and giant dyke swarms (Yale and Carpenter,
wish to improve the location of regional seismic 1998). The super-continents are split and dispersed by
events. They map Pn and Sn velocities beneath most continental rifting (Fig. 2D). Modern continental rifts
of Eurasia, thereby revealing structural information at provide unique opportunities to study the initial stages
a length scale relevant to regional tectonics; the result of continental break-up, as for example, in the Afar
has also provided an evaluation of recently con- Triangle in Ethiopia. The oldest known continental
structed 3-D mantle models. The authors developed rifting event ( f 3.0 Ga) is documented by petrotec-
and tested a method to produce Pn and Sn travel time tonic assemblages in the Kaapvaal craton; another
correction surfaces that are the 3-D analogues of travel Precambrian example is the Keweenawan rift in the
time curves for a 1-D model. The most intriguing north-central USA. Ancient giant mafic dyke swarms
features on the Pn and Sn maps of Eurasia are the low- (the oldest, the Ameralik swarm in southwestern
velocity anomalies that characterize most tectonically Greenland, is f 3.25 Ga) indicate that plume – litho-
deformed regions. One such anomalous zone exists sphere interaction played an important role in the
across southern Asia and the Middle East, extending evolution of the continental lithosphere since its very
from Turkey in the west to Lake Baikal in the east. formation. The Wyoming craton in North America
These anomalies are almost certainly related to the and the Sino-Korean craton in China are examples of
closure of the Neo-Tethys Ocean and the collision of lithospheric keels, that were eroded and metasoma-
India with Asia. Low-velocity anomalies beneath the tised during large-scale lithosphere – mantle interac-
Pacific margin, the Red Sea rift, the Tyrrhenian Sea, tion, which may have its origin in mantle plumes (e.g.
and other regions undergoing active extension are Eggler et al., 1988; Griffin et al., 1998, 1999).
likely to be associated with back-arc spreading. No Geodynamic models of the formation of continental
conclusions can be made for most of the shield and rifts and large extensional structures can be divided
platform regions of Eurasia (the East European Plat- into the ‘‘active’’ and ‘‘passive’’ models, as defined by
form, the West Siberian Basin, and the Siberian Sengör and Burke (1978). The models of active rifting
Craton), where the ray coverage is very poor. suggest that crustal extension and associated rifting is
10 I.M.
I.M.Artemieva /Tectonophysics
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continental lithosphere of the Indian plate under the The seismic tomography results of Koulakov et al.
Asian plate (Kosarev et al., 1999). Together with the and Ritzwoller et al. (this volume) outline zones of past
results thermal perturbations
source seismologyin the(Nelson
al., Earlier long-range
subduction beneath the seismic refraction region,
Mediterranean and teleseis-
1996), This results in ascent
is found of hot mantle
for extensive material
melting of theto mic studies of thezone,
Alpine-Himalayan East and
African and Asia.
Central Rio Grande rifts
The loca-
upper depths
crust (in some
beneath cases to the
the Tibetian base of
plateau. Thethetomo-
crust) provide
tion compelling
of these seismicevidence
anomaliesfor in
a hot
the mantle
upper down
and subsequent
graphic lithospheric
maps of Koulakov et extension and thinning.
al. (this volume) show depths ofwith
correlates at least 100 –reconstructed
globally 200 km and subduction
support the
How deep
velocity in the mantle
anomalies are the
indicative of driving forces ofIndian
the subducted active hypothesis
zones for theofpast
an 200
basedmantle, origin (Braile
on a compilation of
slab underContinental
the western rifts appear toBeneath
Himalayas. have two the source
east- et al.,plate
finite 1995; Baldridge
rotations et al., and
(Richards 1995). The recent
ern the upper
Himalayas, lowmantle
seismic the core –inmantle
andvelocities boun-
the upper tomography
1992). models
The latter byimplies
study Koulakov
that et al. (this volume)
subduction along
dary. In the latter case, large-scale rifts result from show positive relative velocity anomalies beneath the
plumes that are rooted at the core – mantle boundary Baikal rift zone in the depth range 100 – 500 km and
(e.g. Loper and Stacey, 1983). However, little direct thus support the conclusion of its passive origin.
evidence exists so far for plumes beneath the conti- The Basin and Range Province in western USA is
nental rifts, their presence being chiefly hypothesized another example of passive lithosphere extension
from large volumes of magmatic rocks associated with (Parsons, 1995). The model of adiabatic melting of
the rifting process. An upper mantle source of rifting is mantle material due to lithosphere extension (McKen-
often associated with convection in the upper mantle, zie and Bickle, 1988) predicts basaltic magma gen-
that is, above the 660-km discontinuity, or with sec- eration in tectonically active areas only in highly
ondary convection (e.g. Griffiths and Campbell, 1991). extended regions; for realistic lithosphere thickness
In this case, continents form a thermal blanket that and mantle temperature, lithosphere extension must be
allows the underlying mantle to heat up, thereby larger than 100% to initiate melting of a peridotitic
leading to uplift and eventually rifting. mantle. Such values of extension are typical for the
The passive models imply that the primary mecha- Northern Basin and Range Province, where they are
nism of continental rifting is lithospheric extension about 200 – 250% on average and have even higher
caused by deviatoric stresses in the lithosphere pro- local values (Gans, 1987). Achauer and Masson (this
duced by plate boundary forces. If the deviatoric volume) conclude that complex regional and far-field
tension is large enough and/or the lithosphere is rela- stresses (caused by plate motion) as well as the
tively thin and hot, it can cause lithospheric failure rheological strength of the lithosphere (determined
(Kuznir and Park, 1984) accompanied by passive by its tectonic history) govern the evolution of rifts,
ascent of hot mantle material into the weak zones of which tend to follow the pre-existing inherited struc-
the lithosphere. In this hypothesis, neither the upper tures and zones of rheological or tectonic weakness.
nor the lower mantle plays an important role as a
driving force for the rifting process. However, the
upper mantle provides the melt for volcanism that is 6. Recent plate tectonics and anisotropy
associated with extension and rifting. Thus, the passive
rifting model is difficult to distinguish from the secon- Whereas seismic anisotropy has long been known
dary convection model. The debates on the passive or within the Earth’s mantle (Anderson, 1961), there has
active origin of different continental rifts still continue. been increasing recognition that the metamorphic
Achauer and Masson (this volume) evaluate tomo- rocks within the crust can possess as much as 10 –
graphic images of the four major recent continental rift 15% seismic anisotropy. In the mantle, elastic aniso-
zones (the Kenya, Baikal, and Rio Grande rifts and the tropy is commonly attributed to the preferred orienta-
Rhine Graben) (Fig. 1) by comparing absolute tion of olivine crystals (e.g. Karato, 1992). Thus, the
velocity models, derived from recent global 3-D sur- total measured anisotropy is a combination of crustal
face wave tomography. The four rifts differ substan- and mantle components, which generally will have
tially down to depths of f 300 km. The results different orientations (e.g. Christensen et al., 2001).
indicate that the Kenya and the Rio Grande rifts Savage (1999) reviews in detail recent progress on
may be considered as active rifts where large upwell- seismic anisotropy studies.
ing plumes control their evolution, whereas the south- The observation of shear-wave splitting on broad-
ern Rhine Graben and the Baikal Rift zone are more band seismic waveforms has led to two competing
likely to be passive rifts. models for anisotropy within the upper mantle. Vinnik
11 I.M.
I.M.Artemieva /Tectonophysics
1–15 11

et al. (1998, 1999) argue for anisotropy primarily ever, another interpretation of the observed anisotropy
within the asthenosphere based on the agreement in this Cenozoic orogenic belt may be in terms of
between plate motion directions and the orientation ‘‘escape tectonics’’ and associated anisotropy in a
of the fast axis of wave speed. Such correlations were rheologically weak lower crust and subcrustal litho-
found in most oceanic regions at 100 – 200 km depth sphere (Meissner et al., 2002). A global study of Smith
(e.g. Nishimura and Forsyth, 1989; Montagner and and Ë kstrom (1999) supports the idea that beneath the
Tanimoto, 1991; Lévêque et al., 1998). Silver and continents, anisotropy commonly reflects the most
Chan (1988, 1991) argue for anisotropy primarily recent deformation event.
within the lithosphere (‘‘frozen-in anisotropy’’) based Seismic anisotropy, which is sensitive to deforma-
on agreement between the geometry of continental tion of the mantle rocks, provides an image of the
accretion and the orientation of the fast axis. Similarly mantle flow associated with thermal convection and
to continents, anisotropy in the lithosphere beneath plate motions. For example, simple shear flow from
oceans is commonly assumed to be frozen-in and convection would produce alignment of olivine crys-
associated with the spreading direction (e.g. Nishi- tals along the flow direction. The relationship of
mura and Forsyth, 1989). upper-mantle anisotropy to past and present plate
These two points of view need not be incompat- motion is discussed in a recent review of Park and
ible. As argued in this volume, seismic observations Levin (2002), who state that seismic anisotropy is not
are best modeled by a combination of lithospheric and only a result of past processes now frozen into the
asthenospheric anisotropy. This view is strongly sup- lithosphere, but it is also a result of active processes.
ported by the results of Plomerova et al. (this volume) This hypothesis holds the promise that seismic aniso-
and Lévêque et al. (1998) from changes in the depth- tropy may be used to determine the role of the mantle
distribution of the radial and azimuthal surface-wave in active processes such as plate motions, crustal
anisotropy. The results of the later study imply that deformation in collision zones, and vertical crustal
below the Australian continent, the drastic change in movement that form both stable platforms and broad
the direction of anisotropy occurs at a depth of 150 – uplifts. Seismic anisotropy studies of subduction
200 km, while a positive velocity anomaly is clearly zones (starting with the works of Ando et al., 1983;
seen down to f 300 km depth. Similar results were Fukao, 1984) provide new insights into active pro-
reported for the South African craton by Vinnik et al. cesses in the mantle. In the present volume, two
(1995), who have proposed that the deep part of papers address slab anisotropy.
continental roots (below f 200 km depth) can expe- Levin et al. (this volume) document the existence
rience deformation associated with plate motion and of anisotropy within a supra-slab asthenospheric man-
mantle flow. tle wedge from an investigation of the crust and upper
Plomerova et al. (this volume) propose a global mantle structure of Kamchatka, far-eastern Russia
model of lithospheric thickness, wherein the litho- (Fig. 1), by teleseismic receiver functions. This
sphere – asthenosphere boundary (LAB) is considered experiment reveals regional variations in the Moho
to be the transition between ‘frozen-in’ anisotropy in depth (30 – 40 km across the peninsula) and P-to-S
the lithosphere and mantle flow-related anisotropy in converted phases from the steeply dipping slab.
the asthenosphere. These two anisotropic zones can Strong (5 – 10%) anisotropy below the Moho in the
have different alignments of mantle olivine, and the supra-slab mantle wedge with mostly trench-normal
authors interpret a depth where a change in the symmetry axes is required to fit most data and is
direction of anisotropy occurs as the LAB. Depths to indicative of active deformation of the mantle ‘‘litho-
the LAB are estimated to be between 200 and 250 km sphere’’ beneath the Kamchatka volcanic arc. The
beneath Precambrian shields and platforms, around authors suggest that mantle strain occurs either by
100 km in the Phanerozoic continental regions, and wedge corner flow at depth or by trenchward suction
40 – 70 km beneath oceans. From changes in the depth- of crust as the Pacific slab retreats.
distribution of anisotropy, the lithospheric thickness Karagianni et al. (this volume) use Rayleigh wave
surprisingly exceeds 200 km beneath the Caucasus — group velocity tomography to investigate the crustal
Himalayas — Tien Shan — Tibet mountain belt. How- structure of continental Greece, the Aegean Sea and
12 I.M.
I.M.Artemieva /Tectonophysics
1–15 12

et al. (1998, 1999) argue for anisotropy primarily ever, another interpretation of the observed anisotropy
within the asthenosphere based on the agreement in this Cenozoic orogenic belt may be in terms of
the eastern
between plateMediterranean subduction
motion directions area.
and the The non-
orientation ‘‘escape
seismic tomography
tectonics’’ results foranisotropy
and associated the Hercynian
in a
oflinear ‘‘hedgehog’’
the fast inversion,
axis of wave as applied
speed. Such to fewwere
correlations local range in weak
rheologically western France,
lower crust the
subcrustal litho-
found in mostcurves,
oceanicshows 100 – 200
regionsa atcrustal thickness
km depthof sphere belt, the Mediterranean
(Meissner et al., 2002).area, and Kamchatka.
A global study of Smith
(e.g. Nishimura 32 andkm for the1989;
Forsyth, northern Aegeanand
Montagner Sea (3) ËBreak-up
and and supports
kstrom (1999) modification of that
the idea the beneath
and a relatively
Tanimoto, 1991;thin crust ofetapproximately
Lévêque 22 – 24and
al., 1998). Silver km lithosphere
continents, during commonly
anisotropy active or passive continental
reflects the most
for the(1988,
Chan southern Aegean
1991) argueSea,
fora result that isprimarily
anisotropy consistent recentrifting as illustrated
deformation recent tomographic studies
with seismic refraction interpretation (Makris, 1977). of four modern continental rifts (the Kenya,
In addition to these depth estimates, an S-wave LVZ is Baikal, and Rio Grande rifts and the Rhine
found at a depth of 30 – 40 km, consistent with Graben).
volcanic activity and high heat flow in the region. (4) Erosion of the continental lithosphere by mantle
convection as illustrated by the analysis of the
effect of plate motion on basal drag. Seismic
7. Summary models of rheologically weak LVZs in the upper
mantle provide additional constraints for the
We summarize new geophysical evidence for the observed correlation between plate velocities and
processes that determine the evolution of the conti- lithospheric thickness.
nental lithosphere since the early Archean. These (5) Regional and global data on seismic anisotropy
processes are related to plate tectonics and include: provide information on the convection pattern in
the upper mantle and on the thickness of the
(1) Growth of Precambrian continental lithosphere by continental lithosphere.
collision and accretion of terranes and by
subduction, as supported by new seismic inter-
pretations for the Baltic Shield and the western Acknowledgements
part of the East European Platform.
(2) Growth of Phanerozoic continental lithosphere by We are grateful to the reviewers of the manuscripts
continent – ocean collisions, terrane accretion and submitted to this special issue for their efforts to keep
associated subduction, as evidenced by new the high standards of the volume.

Dallas Abbott (Palisades, NY, USA) James Mechie (Potsdam, Germany)
Ulrich Achauer (Strasbourg, France) Rolf Meissner (Kiel, Germany)
Jörg Ansorge (Zürich, Switzerland) Brian Mitchell (Saint Louis, MO, USA)
Harmen Bijwaard (Bilthoven, The Netherlands) Rolf Mjelde (Bergen, Norway)
Günter Bock (Potsdam, Germany) Lars Nielsen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Ramon Carbonell (Barcelona, Spain) Tom Parsons (Menlo Park, CA, USA)
Sebastien Chevrot (Cambridge, MA, USA) Georges Poupinet (Grenoble, France)
Garry Chulick (Menlo Park, CA, USA) Jeroen Ritsema (Pasadena, CA, USA)
Eric Debayle (Strasbourg, France) Arthur Rodgers Jr. (Livermore, CA, USA)
Saskia Goes (Zürich, Switzerland) Barbara Romanowicz (Berkeley, CA, USA)
Jürgen Gossler (Köln, Germany) Bernd Schurr (Potsdam, Germany)
Michel Granet (Strasbourg, France) Nikolai Shapiro (Boulder, CO, USA)
Olafur Gudmundsson (Copenhagen, Denmark) Jeannot Trampert (Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Thomas Hearn (Socorro, NM, USA) Marc Tittgemeyer (Leipzig, Germany)
Rainer Kind (Potsdam, Germany) Suzan van der Lee (Zürich, Switzerland)
Vadim Levin (Palisades, NY, USA)
13 I.M.
I.M.Artemieva /Tectonophysics
1–15 13

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