Lithospheric expression of cenozoic subduction, mesozoic rifting and the Precambrian Shield in Venezuela
We have combined surface wave tomography with Ps and Sp receiver-function images based on common-conversion-point (CCP) stacking to study the upper mantle velocity structure, particularly the lithosphere–asthenosphere boundary (LAB), beneath eastern and central Venezuela. Rayleigh phase velocities in the frequency range of 0.01–0.05 Hz (20–100 s in period) were measured using the two-plane-wave method and finite-frequency kernels, and then inverted on a 0.5° × 0.5° grid. The phase velocity dispersion data at grid points were inverted for 1D shear velocity profiles using initial crust-mantle velocity models constructed from previous studies. The 3D velocity model and receiver-function images were interpreted jointly to determine the depth of the LAB and other upper mantle features. The tomographic images revealed two high velocity anomalies extending to more than ∼200 km depth. One corresponds to the top of the subducting Atlantic plate beneath the Serrania del Interior. The other anomaly is a highly localized feature beneath the Maturin Basin. The LAB depth varies significantly in the study region: It is located at ∼110 km depth beneath the Guayana Shield, and reaches ∼130 km at the northern edge of the Maturin Basin, which might be related to the downward flexural bending due to thrust loading of the Caribbean plate and pull from the subducting Atlantic plate. Immediately to the west, the lithosphere is thin (∼50–60 km) along the NE-SW trending Espino Graben from the Cariaco basin to the Orinoco River at the northern edge of the craton. The LAB in this region is the top of a pronounced low velocity zone. Westward, the lithosphere deepens to ∼80 km depth beneath the Barinas Apure Basin, and to ∼90 km beneath the Neogene Merida Andes and Maracaibo block. Both upper mantle velocity structure and lithosphere thickness correlate well with surface geology and are consistent with northern South American tectonics.