Interpretation of geoid anomalies in the contact zone between the East European Craton and the Palaeozoic Platform—II: Modelling of density in the lithospheric mantle

Świeczak M., Kozlovskaya E., Majdański M., Grad M.

Geophysical Journal International

177(2), 2009, 334-346, 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04103.x

We present analysis of lateral variations of density in the upper mantle in the area of contact of the precambrian East European Craton (EEC) and the Palaeozoic Platform (PP) in Poland, obtained by analysis of the gravimetric geoid undulations. A precise 3-D density model of the crust in the study area down to a depth of 50 km, discussed in the first part of this paper (Majdański et al., in press) did not explain all features of the observed geoid. This suggests that these features can be due to density inhomogeneities in the upper mantle. To estimate them, we performed inversion of a residual between the observed geoid and undulations caused by the 3-D density distribution in the crust. Basing on the assumption of local isostatic compensation and Pratt-Hayford isostasy model, the density distribution in the upper mantle was parametrized as a 40-km-thick layer located above the assumed compensation depth of 140 km and subdivided into irregular blocks. The boundaries of the blocks were defined according to boundaries of major tectonic units in the study area and position and shape of the most pronounced anomalies in the residual geoid. A series of sensitivity tests calculated for such density heterogeneities in the upper mantle showed that they can produce geoid undulations of the order of several metres. The density values in each unit were taken as model parameters for the inversion procedure, and inverse problem was solved using global optimization with constraints. The density variations in the upper mantle in the final model correlate well with the surface heat flow. This suggests that these variations can be due to diversity in mantle temperature. The Trans-European Suture Zone (TESZ), which is a major suture separating the EEC from the PP, is not observed as a distinct unit in the mantle. Instead, our study suggests continuation of the lithosphere of the EEC beneath the PP and confirms subdivision of the TESZ into terranes with distinctly different evolution. A simple calculation shows that condition of local isostatic equilibrium is almost achieved at the assumed compensation depth, with the exception of several small-scale units. However, different loads and mass deficiencies in the lithosphere are compensated at different depth levels. This proves that the lithosphere is alternation of mechanically strong and weak layers, both in the crust and upper mantle, and that different loads can be compensated at different depth. However, the total compensation of all lithospheric loads occurs in the upper mantle.