Complex interaction of rheologically contrasting layers within the lithosphere during the collision of continental plates leads to active faulting, which represents a serious hazard to the population and infrastructure. One of the collision scenarios presumes the existence of a middle-lower crustal channel composed of subducted silicic upper crustal rocks, which is thought to exist in the Tibetan-Himalayan system. Based on the results of seismic tomography, we argue that a similar mechanism of crustal channeling takes place beneath the Zagros mountain system in southwestern Iran. The 3D seismic velocity model reveals an inverted crustal architecture of the collision zone, in which the low-velocity felsic (granitic and sedimentary) upper crustal rocks of the Arabian plate form a seismically inactive lower crustal channel below the higher-velocity mafic (basaltic) middle-upper crustal layer of the Iranian crust. Based on existing numerical models, we suggest that the formation of the felsic channel is likely governed by separation (delamination) of the weak felsic upper crust of the subducting Arabian lithosphere and its ductile underplating under rheologically stronger upper-middle crust of the Iranian plate.
- LITHOSPHERIC STRUCTURE BENEATH
- MOUNTAIN BELT
- SUTURE ZONE