Crustal thickness and Moho sharpness beneath the Midcontinent rift from receiver functions

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Moikwathai Moidaki *
Stephen S. Gao
Kelly H. Liu
Estella Atekwana
(*) Corresponding Author:
Moikwathai Moidaki |


The Mesoproterozoic Midcontinent rift (MCR) in the central US is an approximately 2000 km long, 100 km wide structure from Kansas to Michigan. During the 20-40 million years of rifting, a thick (up to 20 km) layer of basaltic lava was deposited in the rift valleys. Quantifying the effects of the rifting and associated volcanic eruptions on the structure and composition of the crust and mantle beneath the MCR is important for the understanding of the evolution of continental lithosphere. In this study we measure the crustal thickness (H), and the sharpness of the Moho (R) at about 24 portable and permanent stations in Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota by stacking Pto- S converted waves (PmS) and their multiples (PPmS and PSmS). Under the assumption that the crustal mean velocity in the study area is the same as the IASP91 earth model, we find a significantly thickened crust beneath the MCR of about 53 km. The crustal Vp/Vs ratios increases from about 1.80 off rift to as large as 1.95 within the rift, which corresponds to an increase of Poisson’s ratio from 0.28 to 0.32, suggesting a more mafic crust beneath the MCR. The R measurements are spatially variable and are relatively small in the vicinity of the MCR, indicating the disturbance of the original sharp Moho by the rifting and magmatic intrusion and volcanic eruption.

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Author Biography

Moikwathai Moidaki, University of Botswana, Gaborone

Physics Department, lecturer