Crustal layering and gravity highs in the Midcontinent of North America; implications for the formation of the Illinois Basin

Hersh J. Gilbert, Joshua Boschelli, Gary L. Pavlis, Michael W. Hamburger, Stephen Marshak, Chen Chen, Xiaotao Yang, Michael S. DeLucia, Timothy H. Larson, John Rupp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The emerging picture of crustal and lithospheric structure beneath the North American cratonic platform resulting from recent increases in the resolution of seismic studies is revealing a scale of complexity and heterogeneity not previously recognized. Examples of novel images of the lithosphere allowed by this increased sampling come from the results of the OIINK project, an EarthScope FlexArray experiment. OIINK data provides new insight into tectonic relationships among the Reelfoot Rift, Ozark Plateau, Rough Creek Graben, and Illinois Basin. Making use of ambient-noise tomography from data recorded by the OIINK Array and surrounding stations we produced a new shear-wave velocity model of the region. This model indicates detailed variations in crustal wavespeeds align with the regional tectonic features. Beyond corroborating previous observations of high-speed material in the mid- to lower crust of the southern Illinois Basin, this new model demonstrates that these anomalous velocities extend continuously from the Reelfoot, beneath the Mississippi Embayment, into southern Indiana. This model also includes a separate area characterized by a similarly thickened layer of increased velocities in the middle and lower crust beneath the LaSalle Deformation Belt, a north-south band of faults and folds that runs along the axis of the Illinois Basin. At depths of about 20 km, the top of these areas of thickened high-velocity crust align with a midcrustal discontinuity identified by receiver functions. Additionally, the lateral extent of these structures correlates with regions of increased Bouguer gravity. If the high-velocity structures contain high-density material, this configuration provides an explanation for the source of these positive gravity anomalies. These observations support a model in which Late Proterozoic rifting beneath the region of the Illinois Basin provided an opportunity for high-density material to enter the crust as residuum from melt extraction. In turn, the negative buoyancy forces resulting from this high-density material could then contribute to subsidence in the Illinois Basin, emphasizing the potential for intracrationic basins to originate from failed rifts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAGU 2017 fall meeting
Place of PublicationNew Orleans, Louisiana
StatePublished - 2017


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