Deep Seismic Expression of an Ancient Plate Boundary in Europe

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Science  01 Jul 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5168, pp. 79-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5168.79


Seismological results on the structure of the upper mantle below Europe reveal a marked contrast in seismic properties between Precambrian and younger parts of Europe. The Precambrian craton in eastern Europe is characterized by high shear-wave velocities, which can be explained by low temperatures. The transition to low seismic velocities below Phanerozoic Europe coincides with the crustal boundary zone of the craton and exists to depths of at least 140 kilometers. Despite the long and complex tectonic history of the plate boundary zone, the transition is remarkably sharp, which rules out any significant lateral transport of asthenospheric material across the suture zone.