2020 Numerical models of lower crustal flow explain Yellowstone's "tectonic parabola"



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Several hypotheses exist for the origin of the seismically active region of high topography surrounding the Yellowstone hotspot track. Among these is the idea that a dense mid-crustal sill has driven viscous lower crust away from the hotspot track, producing crustal thinning/subsidence in the Snake River Plain, and corresponding inflation/uplift of the surrounding terrain.

Recent evidence of azimuthally-aligned seismic anisotropy in the lower crust has led us to investigate the dynamics of lower crustal flow, and its role as a non-tectonic driver of localized epeirogeny. In this GIG webinar, I will describe ongoing work to quantify this mechanism, including an efficient numerical method for modeling lower crustal flow, and its potential application to geodynamic models.