Evolution and thickness of the lithosphere beneath coastal California.

G. Zandt, K. P. Furlong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Many of the tectonic features of the California Coast Ranges are directly related to the N migration of the Mendocino triple junction along the W edge of N America during the past 20-30Ma. At the triple junction, the W edge of the N American plate slides off the (relative) N moving and subducting Gorda plate, leaving the thin W edge in direct contact with asthenosphere upwelling to fill the space vacated by the underlying Gorda plate. 2-D time-dependent thermal modeling of this process, constrained by teleseismic delay studies is used to construct a map of lithospheric thickness of coastal California. Among the implications of this map are that 1) the high heat flow in the Coast Ranges can be almost entirely accounted for by the asthenospheric upwelling associated with the migrating Mendocino triple junction; 2) the general elevation and the late Cenozoic volcanism in the California Coast Ranges are responses to a zone of unusually thin (20-45km) lithosphere that extends S behind the Mendocino triple junction; and 3) the course of some segments of the San Andreas fault (in both central and S California) appear to deviate from a deeper, more fundamental, transform boundary separating the Pacific and N American plates.-Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-381
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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