Fossil flat-slab subduction beneath the Illinois basin, USA

Heather Bedle*, Suzan van der Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The Illinois basin is one of several well-studied intracratonic sedimentary basins within the North American craton whose formational mechanisms and subcrustal structure are not well understood. We study the S-velocity structure of the upper mantle beneath the Illinois basin and its surrounding area through seismic tomography. We utilize continental scale waveform data of seismic S and surface waves, enhanced by regional earthquakes located near the Illinois basin. Our 3D tomographic model, IL05, confirms the existence of a slow S-velocity structure in the uppermost mantle beneath the Illinois basin region. This anomalously slow region exists from the base of the crust to depths of ∼ 90 km, and is slower than the North American cratonic average by about 200 m/s. This anomalous uppermost mantle beneath the Illinois basin is underlain by a faster lithosphere, typical of the surrounding craton, to depths of ∼ 200 km. Excluding the formation of the Reelfoot Rift, this area of North American has been stable for over 1.0 Gy. Thus, we do not expect thermal anomalies from before that time to persist into present day S-velocity anomalies and we consider a delamination origin as an explanation of Illinois basin subsidence unlikely. We cannot rule out that the slow mid-lithosphere beneath the Illinois basin is caused by an uppermost mantle enriched by a deep, but weak plume. We attribute the slow mid-lithosphere to the presence of either oceanic, hydrous crust, or, a relatively cool mantle wedge with preserved hydrous minerals in the Illinois basin's uppermost mantle, related to a fossilized flat subduction zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-68
Number of pages16
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 19 2006


  • Illinois basin
  • S-wave velocity
  • Seismic tomography
  • Upper mantle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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