Earthquake Reaearch in China  2019, Vol. 33 Issue (2): 276-287     DOI: 10.19743/j.cnki.0891-4176.201902009
The vP Velocity Structures of Sub-blocks in the North China Craton from Active Source Waveform Modeling and Tectonic Implications
LIU Hanqi1, TIAN Xiaofeng1, LIU Baofeng1, WANG Honglei2     
1. Geophysical Exploration Center, China Earthquake Administration, Zhengzhou 450003, China;
2. Hebei Earthquake Agency, Shijiazhuang 050021, China
Abstract: We present the 1-D crustal velocity structure of the major tectonic blocks of the North China Craton (NCC) along 36°N based on synthetic seismogram modeling of long-range wide-angle reflection/refraction data. This profile extends from southwest Yan'an of central Shaanxi Province of China (109.47°E), across the southern Trans-North China Orogen (TNCO), the southwestern part of the North China Plain (NCP), the Luxi Uplift (LU) and the Sulu Orogen (SLO), ending at Qingdao City of Shandong Province, the eastern margin of China (120.12°E) along 36°N. We utilized reflectivity synthetic seismogram modeling of the active source data to develop 1-D velocity structures of the sub-blocks of the NCC. Our final model shows that the NCC crust varies remarkably among the tectonic units with different velocity structure features. Higher lower crustal velocity and Moho depth~42km is a major feature of the crust beneath southern Ordos Blockt. The TNCO which is composed of Lyuliangshan Mountains (LM), Shanxi Graben (SXG) and Taihangshan Mountains (TM) shows dominant trans-orogenic features. The NCP shows a dominant thickening of sediments, sharp crust thinning with Moho depth~32km and significant lower average velocity. The SLO and the LU shows a stratified crust, higher average velocity and crust thinning with Moho depth of~35km. Our model shows the coincidence between the deep structure and the surface geology among all the tectonic sub-blocks of the NCC.
Key words: The North China Craton     Crustal velocity structure     Craton destructure     Wide-angle reflection/refraction    

INTRODUCTION

The North China Craton (NCC) is older than 3.8 Ga(Liu D. Y. et al., 1992), and its stable, cold, and lower seismicity lithosphere has been significantly modified since the Mesozoic (Menzies M. et al., 2007; Zhu Rixiang et al., 2009, 2012).Recent passive seismological studies have suggested that the Eastern NCC (ENCC) has experienced tectonothermal reactivation and delamination in the Phanerozoic, with a thick (~200km), cold (40mW/m2) and refractory Paleozoic lithosphere replaced by a thin (~100km), hot (65mW/m2) and fertile Cenozoic-to-present lithosphere (e.g., Chen Ling et al., 2006a; Chen Ling, 2009, 2010; Kusky T. M. et al., 2007; Xu Yigang et al., 2009; Zhu Rixiang et al., 2012).

From the 1980s, a lot of short, sparse-observation controlled-source seismic profiles were deployed around the Beijing Capital Zone in the northeastern NCC (Li Songlin et al., 2006). Since the mid 1990s, the development of new active source and their applications provided new approaches for exploring and imaging the interior structure and composition of the earth (Chen Yong et al., 2007, 2017; Wang Baoshan et al., 2011).Airgun sources as seismic energy to monitor crustal temporal changes (Wang Baoshan et al., 2011; Chen Yong et al., 2017) and to image crustal velocity structures in land-based water bodies(e.g. the Yangtze River and the Dayindian Reservoir in Binchuan) have been improved quickly for their environmentally friendly advantages (She Yuyang et al., 2018; Tian Xiaofeng et al., 2018; Wang Baoshan et al., 2018). Yangtze River seismic 3-D experiments using airgun sources have shown that the first arrival can be traced farther than 150km after linearly stacking of the waveforms over 200 shots (Tian Xiaofeng et al., 2018) with dominant seismic signal frequencies of 2Hz to 8Hz.

On the other hand, the extensive applications of chemical explosion with a TNT equivalent of >10 ton enhanced the long-distance, lithospheric scale and dense spacing profile observation. The largest explosion is the colliery explosion with 5400-ton dynamite at the Yinchuan graben in 2007 and the seismic profile observation for this event is longer than 2, 000km. (Zhao Jinren et al., 2009) provided the observed seismic evidence that reveals the lithospheric thickness of ~200-220km and the middle lithospheric discontinuity at ~110-120km beneath the southeast western NCC (WNCC). Also, old controlled-source seismic data has been reinterpreted to model the lithospheric model of the NCC to provide comprehensive geophysical models. Six old profiles were reorganized into two long transects, long enough to cover the entire NCC in the NE-SW and NW-SE directions, which reconstructed rough lithospheric models of the NCC (Zhang Zhongjie et al., 2012, 2014). A 1, 530km-long WAR/R acquisition across the middle NCC shows strong crustal heterogeneity and intensive thinning of the crust in the ENCC (Tian Xiaofeng et al., 2014; Jia Shixu et al., 2014). The middle and northern NCC are covered by dense seismic observation and the data reveals a complicated and heterogeneous structure of the NCC.

However, of all these observations sampled at the north part of the NCC, the observation covering the central and south part is scarce. The first long-range WAR/R profile in the NCC (Li Songlin et al., 2011) applied controlled-source observation along 36°N and provided the best location to obtain the detailed crustal velocity structure of the southern NCC. This profile almost covers the whole southern NCC, overlaps with the broadband seismic profiles along 36°N and supplements the gap at the LU and the LLF (Chen Ling et al., 2006b, 2008, 2014; Zheng Yongfei et al., 2013; Wang Pan et al., 2013). In this study, we focused on the crustal velocity structure differences of the sub-blocks of the NCC along 36°N and its geological implications.

1 SEISMIC DATA ACQUISITION AND ANALYSIS

A 960km-long active source seismic refraction/reflection (WAR/R) profile was acquired in 2010 (Fig. 1). This profile is the first long-distance active source WAR/R profile observation in China. This profile extended from southwest Yan'an of central Shaanxi Province of China (Lon. 109.75°E), across the southern Trans-North China Orogen (TNCO), the southern section of the North China Plain (NCP), the Luxi Uplift (LU) and the Sulu Orogen(SLO), ending at the eastern margin of China (120.12°E, 36°N). This profile included 7 single-fire shots, each shot was loaded with chemical explosives from 2, 000kg to 5, 000kg.

Fig. 1 Locations of the long-range WAR/R profile on tectonic and geological maps (a) Simplified tectonic map of China, modified from Stern R.J. et al., (2018) and Zheng Yongfei et al. (2013). The yellow dash is the location of the WAR/R profile. (b) Topographic map of the study region, locations of seismic stations (black thick line), and shot points (red stars).Black thin lines are faults. The thin black lines are the faults. Abbreviations are as follows: western North China Craton (WNCC); Trans-North China Orogen (TNCO); eastern North China Craton (ENCC); Lyuliang Mountains (LM); Shanxi Graben (SXG); Taihang Mountains (TM); North China Plain (NCP); Luxi Uplift (LU); Tanlu Fault Zone (TFZ); Sulu Oregon (SLO)

Due to the lower water table, coupling between source and ground on shot site 1 was not very good, first arrival could be traced at a distance of ~300km, although the PmP phase was weak (Fig. 2(a)). Shot 2 and shot 3 were located in the Shanxi graben (Fig. 1), with 2, 000kg and 2, 300kg explosive, respectively. Both shots were blasted in crystalline rocks. For both shot 2 and 3, first arrivals were clearly strong and the PmP phase was sharp (Figs. 3(a) and 4(a)). Shot 4 and shot 5, with 2, 000kg and 2, 500kg explosives respectively, were located in the North China Plain (Fig. 1) and overlying the unconsolidated sediments. Since the water table is higher here, the blast quality is good, and the clearly visible sharp Pn phase of shot 4 could be traced beyond 500km (Fig. 3(a)). PmP phase for shot 4 was sharp (Fig. 3(a)) and for shot 5 was clear to identify (Fig. 4(a)). Shot 6, with 2, 000kg explosive, was located in the hills in Luxi uplift (Fig. 1). The Pn phase for shot 6 could be easily traced up to 300km, and the PmP phase toward east was easy to identify (Fig. 5(a)). Shot 7 had 3, 000kg explosive, and was located in the Sulu Oregon belt, close to the eastern margin of China's continent (Fig. 1). The Pg phase for shot 7 is strong up to 80km and PmP phase is sharp (Fig. 6(a)).

Several P-wave seismic phases can be identified for each shot. The first arrival phases, which are generally refracted in the crust and uppermost mantle, comprised of Pg and Pn phase. The Pg phase, which is refracted or turned waves in the upper- and mid-crust, has a high signal-to-noise ratio and can clearly be traced to 80-100km in each shot. Beyond an offset of 100km, Pg phase is weak and vague to identify generally. For shot 2 (Fig. 3(a)) and east branch of shot 5 (Fig. 4(a)), Pg phase was strong and could clearly be traced beyond 150km. The slope of the Pg arrival curve could be used to estimate the apparent velocity. Pg phases, which are close to the shot site, show apparent velocities ranging from 3km/s to 5km/s (Fig. 4(a)), and correspond to the near-surface velocity. At offsets larger than 20km, the apparent velocity of the Pg phase increases to 6.0km/s.

The PmP phase, the wide-angle reflections from the Moho discontinuity, can be easily identified as secondary arrivals for each shot. PmP arrivals west of shot 4, shot 5 and east of shot 6 are sharp and clear to identify. Other PmP phases were picked according to the tangential relationship to the Pn phase.

2 THE SYNTHETIC SEISMOGRAM MODELING

The forward synthetic seismogram modeling technique uses both traveltimes and seismic amplitude information to constrain the crustal velocity gradients. The amplitude variations with offset of the wide-angle seismic phases are sensitive to the constraints on the velocity gradients or the nature of crustal interfaces. The amplitude events modeling with high signal-to-noise ratio solved the limitations that their traveltimes are not sensitive enough to resolute crustal velocity gradient variations with depth (Fuchs K. et al., 1971; Sandmeier K. et al., 1986; Christeson G.L. et al., 2000; Zhu Junjiang et al., 2009).

We used the reflectivity method (Fuchs K. et al., 1971; Sandmeier K.J. et al., 1986) to calculate the synthetic seismograms for each shot so that the amplitude and traveltime for each phase (Figs. 2-8(b)) can be constrained. The modeling procedure consisted of serial trial and error modeling until we successively modified the 1-D depth-velocity models to improve the amplitude and traveltime fit for the major phases. Then we verified the weak first arrivals and the PmP phases according to the kinematic and dynamic features of the synthetic seismograms. For our amplitude and traveltime modeling, we only modeled the P-wave phases. In the modeling procedure, QP varied during modeling. A QP value of 300-500 for the NCC region is in agreement with earlier observations (Jia Shixu et al., 1995, 2005).

Fig. 2 (a) Seismogram section and reflectivity synthetics for shot 1with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 1. The inset image is the input 1-D velocity model

Fig. 3 (a) Seismogram sections and reflectivity synthetics for shot 2 with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz, and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 2. The inset maps are the input 1-D velocity model

Fig. 4 (a) Seismogram sections and reflectivity synthetics for shot 3 with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz, and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 3 the inset map is the input 1-D velocity model

Fig. 5 (a) Seismogram sections and reflectivity synthetics for shot 4 with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz, and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 4. The inset map is the input 1-D velocity model

Fig. 6 (a) Seismogram sections and reflectivity synthetics for shot 5with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz, and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 5. The inset map is the input 1-D velocity model

Fig. 7 (a) Seismogram sections and reflectivity synthetics for shot 6 with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz, and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 6. The inset map is the input 1-D velocity model

Fig. 8 (a) Seismogram sections and reflectivity synthetics for shot 7with phase tags. Time axis is reduced at 8km/s. Seismic data were band-pass filtered in 2-8Hz, and trace amplitudes were normalized. Source-receiver offset is positive to the east and negative to the west. Pg, PmP and Pn phases are labeled by red, blue and green, respectively. (b) The synthetic seismograms for shot 7. The inset map is the input 1-D velocity model
3 MODELING RESULTS

Surface and tectonic geology of our final crustal model (Fig. 9(a)-(b)) indicates structure variations and sharp differences among sub-units of the NCC along 36°N. Our preferred velocity model (Figs. 2-8 and Fig. 9(b)) shows obviously velocity differences which are coincidence with the three major blocks of the NCC (Zhao Guochun et al., 1998): the stable WNCC, the TNCO including the LM, the SG and the TM, and the lithospheric strongly modified ENCC including the NCP, the LU and the SLO.

Fig. 9 (a) Elevations for the observation points along the long profile Yellow dots are the shot locations. (b) 1-D velocity model for the tectonic subunits of the NCC. The thick black dash line is the reference Moho (Li Songlin et al., 2006). Abbreviations are as follows: western North China Craton (WNCC); Trans-North China Orogen (TNCO); eastern North China Craton (ENCC); Lyuliang Mountains (LM); Shanxi Graben (SXG); Taihang Mountains (TM); North China Plain (NCP); Luxi Uplift (LU); Sulu Oregon (SLO)
3.1 The Stable WNCC (Ordos Plateau)

The long profile covers about 90km of the WNCC, across the central Ordos Plateau. The seismogram section of shot 1 majorly included the information of the WNCC. The inset map of Fig. 2(b) shows the 1-D velocity structure of the Ordos Plateau with obviously higher mid- and low- crustal velocity.

Elevation of the Ordos Plateau is ~1, 200m and the near surface velocity is 2.0-3.0km/s. The lower near surface velocity indicates the existence of loess structure. Our final model shows stable and laterally stratified crust with an average velocity of 6.45km/s and crust thickness of 40km. The thickness of the crystalline basement of the Ordos Plateau is 3-4km and covered by Cenozoic unconsolidated loess. The lower crustal velocity is 7.0km/s and the uppermost mantle velocity is ~8.1-8.2km/s. The strong amplitudes of Pn phases reveal the sharp discontinuity around the Moho depth.

3.2 The TNCO (The LM, The SXG and The TM)

The long profile sampled the entire TNCO in horizontal direction (>300 km). The boundary between the WNCC and the TNCO (LM) shows a sharp structural transition in the final model. The west branch of PmP phases with more complex properties indicate that the lower crust and Moho transition is more complicated beneath the LM. Both branches of the shot 2 show very weak Pn amplitudes which is connected with weak velocity gradient in uppermost mantle beneath the TNCO. The average crustal velocity is 6.4km/s in the LM, with the lower crust velocity being 6.9km/s. The velocity of uppermost mantle of the LM is 8.0-8.1km/s.

The SXG is a rift basin with elevation 800-1, 100m. The location of shot 2 is in the SXG and the both branches of the shot 2 shows a near-surface velocity of 3.0-3.5km/s in SXG (Fig. 3), with the deepest crystalline basement reaching ~6km. The average crustal velocity is relatively lower at ~6.3km/s, with the velocity of the lower crust being 6.9km/s. The velocity of the uppermost mantle is 8.0km/s.

The TM is the surface geology, gravity and tectonic boundary of the NCC. Elevation of the TM abruptly rises from 100m to 1, 200m. The crystalline basement is exposed near the TM. The east branch of the shot 2 and the west branch of the shot 3 include the velocity information about the TM (Fig. 3 and Fig. 4). A steep Moho dip is underneath the TM which offset ≥6km according to the difference between the both branches of the shot 3.The Moho depth is 38-40km beneath the TM. The average crustal velocity is ~6.30-6.35km/s, relatively higher than others area of the TNCO. The lower crust velocity is 6.8km/s and the velocity of uppermost mantle is 8.0km/s. Compared to the LM, the mid-crust velocity of TM is higher and the lower crust velocity is lower. According to the amplitude modeling, there is steep positive velocity gradient in the upper mantle beneath the TM.

3.3 The ENCC (The NCP, The LLF, The LU, The TFZ and The SLO)

The long profile crosses the entire ENCC (~360km). The NCP, located at the westernmost edge of the ENCC and adjacent to the TM, is comprised of the Neihuang Uplift (NHU) and the Dongpu Sag (DPS). The NHU and DPS are large basins with thick unconsolidated sediments. The lowest near-surface velocity is ~2.0-2.5km/s along the long profile at the NCP. The depth of the crystalline basement is ~6km and the depth of Moho is ~33km in the NCP (Fig. 5). The average crustal velocity is 6.1km/s, and the lower crustal velocity is 6.8km/s in the NCP. The velocity of the uppermost mantle is 8.0km/s in the NCP, with a weak velocity gradient.

The LU shows hills landscape with an elevation of ~400m. The crust in the LU, is the most laterally stratified along the long profile. The near-surface velocity of the LU is ~4.0km/s and its crystalline basement depth is ~3km (Fig. 6). The average crustal velocity and the lower crustal velocity of the LU are 6.2km/s and 6.8km/s, respectively. The thickness of the crystalline crust of the LU is ~35km. The uppermost mantle velocity is 7.8-8.0km/s beneath the LU.

The SLO is the eastern margin of the Shandong Peninsula. The long profile covers a distance of ~100km here. The near-surface velocity of the SLO is 3.0km/s and its crystalline basement depth is ~4km (Fig. 8). The crystalline crust's thickness of the SLO is ~36km. The average crustal velocity is ~6.3km/s which is relatively higher than other areas along the profile. The lower crust velocity is 6.8km/s and the uppermost mantle velocity is 7.8-7.9km/s at the SLO.

4 DISCUSSION

The NCC is constituted of two Archean blocks, the WNCC and the ENCC, which is combined along the TNCO since 1.85Ga. The TNCO plays an important role in the establishment and decratonization process of the NCC. We preferred 1-D velocity structure models of the sub-blocks along the 36°N reveal that the TNCO can tectonically subdivided into three blocks, the LM, the SG and the TM.

The thinning crust is the most obvious feature in the central and eastern NCC. The crust thickness of the ENCC has already averagely thinned >7km more than the WNCC. The thinnest crust is located in the Shanxi Graben of the TNCO, the NCP of the ENCC. The significantly thicker unconsolidated sediments beneath the SXG and the NCP imply that the upper crust of the rift basins thickened during the Cenozoic. Since the NCP has experienced several multi-stage extensional events during the Cenozoic, the crust extensional factor, which was used to estimate the magnitude of the extensional deformation, of the NCP exhibits spatial variations. Our model shows the extension factors are greater in the rift basins than the uplift areas found in the northeast NCC and the Bohai Bay Basin.

After the ~1.85Ga continent-continent collision, the NCC experienced the stable cratonization and remained the Archean keel until the other continent-continent collision during the late Paleozoic (Zhao Guochun et al., 1998; Kusky T. M. et al., 2007). Then, half of its lithospheric root was modified and destroyed during the Phanerozoic (Menzies M. et al., 2007). The mechanism of the NCC destruction was modeled by either lithospheric delamination, thermal erosion (Xu Yigang et al., 2009; Zheng Yongfei et al., 2013), or by both of these mechanisms (Zhu Rixiang et al., 2009). Our 1-D velocity model of the NCC's sub-blocks along the 36°N supports the thermal erosion model in the ENCC (Zhang Zhongjie et al., 2014).

5 CONCLUSION

The long-range wide-angle reflection/refraction (WAR/R) profile acquisition for controlled-source seismic exploration is an effective implement to obtain and refine the velocity structure of the crust and lithosphere. We developed the 1-D crustal velocity structure of sub-blocks of the NCC along 36°N by implementing synthetic seismogram modeling method following the Occam principle. According to the final model which fits the traveltime curves and amplitude variation with the offset, we conclude as follows:

(1) The velocity structure of the WNCC, also known as the Ordos Plateau, remained stable, laterally stratified and lower seismicity, with a lowest crust velocity of~7.0km/s and a Moho depth of ~42km.

(2) The Moho topography is laterally varied beneath the NCC. The Moho depth varies by ~10km beneath the ENCC, TNCO and the WNCC. This sharp Moho step indicates that the ENCC's lithosphere has been modified.

(3) The crust obviously thinning in the ENCC. The NCP is a unique rift basin which is characterized by thickening sediment (up to 8km), the sharply thinning crust (~32km).

(4) There are a sharp Moho offset and steep positive uppermost mantle velocity gradient beneath the LM.

(5) All the seismic characters of the NCC's sub-blocks along the 36°N support the thermal erosion model in the ENCC.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Special thanks go to Prof. Walter D. Mooney for his brilliant advice about amplitude modeling. We gratefully acknowledge many colleagues in the Geophysical Exploration Center of China Earthquake Administration for their great contributions to this study. We also thank anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

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