We present results from a new seismic data set that show evidence for crustal-scale shortening structures beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Southern Appalachians. The data come from six broadband seismic stations deployed on a transect across the Piedmont and Blue Ridge of western North Carolina. The observed structures appear as both a Moho hole and doubled Moho in receiver function CCP (Common Conversion Point) stacks oriented roughly perpendicular to the trend of the Appalachian orogen. We interpret these features as evidence for tectonic wedging and associated delamination and underthrusting of Laurentian lithosphere beneath a crustal indenter. The Moho hole and underlying deeper Moho correspond closely to a significant regional Bouguer gravity anomaly low, which we interpret as being due to overthickened, normal-density crustal material. Beneath the indenter, we observe a double Moho, which may correspond to the partial eclogitization of the underthrust material. This would be consistent with the sharp increase in the observed gravity above this feature. In addition to these crustal structures, we see evidence for a mantle lithospheric discontinuity at 90–100 km depth. This increase in velocity with depth is spatially limited and may dip slightly to the west, though more data are needed to verify this result. We interpret this anomaly to be a fossil slab accreted onto Laurentian lithosphere. If the westward dip is accurate, this slab may be a remnant of a west-vergent subduction zone that was active during the accretion of Carolinia.
- Received 4 October 2011.
- Revision received 6 February 2012.
- Accepted 7 February 2012.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America