DOI: 10.1029/2023jb027024 ISSN: 2169-9313

First‐Order Transition in Appalachian Orogenic Processes Revealed by Along‐Strike Variation of the Moho Geometry

Yantao Luo, Maureen D. Long, Paul Karabinos, Stéphane Rondenay, Roberto Masis Arce
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics


Along‐strike variation of the Laurentian rifted margin and the Appalachian orogen has long been recognized in the geologic record. We investigated the manifestation of this along‐strike variation at depth by generating scattered wavefield migration profiles from four dense seismic arrays deployed across the Appalachian orogen at different latitudes. All profiles exhibit a similar crustal thickness decrease of 15–20 km from the Mesoproterozoic Grenville Province to the Paleozoic Appalachian accreted terranes, but the Moho architecture differs dramatically along strike. The profiles beneath the central and southern Appalachians show a smoothly varying Moho geometry; in contrast, there is an abrupt Moho depth offset beneath the New England Appalachians. This contrast in Moho geometry may result from variations in the Laurentian rifted margin architecture, changes in Taconic orogeny subduction polarity, and greater crustal shortening during the Acadian‐Neoacadian orogeny in southern New England and the Alleghanian orogeny in the central and southern Appalachians. A first‐order along‐strike transition in the behavior of Appalachian orogenic processes is located between the central and New England Appalachians.

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