- © 2008 by the Seismological Society of America
The large volume of broadband waveforms that are being acquired by USArray (http://www.iris.edu/USArray/), the seismology component of the national Earth science program EarthScope (http://www.earthscope.org/), offer unique opportunities for seismic imaging. Constraining structures on a range of length scales and understanding their physical and chemical causes is a prerequisite for understanding the relationship between near surface and deeper mantle processes. One can expect that, eventually, full wave tomography (e.g., De Hoop and van der Hilst 2005; De Hoop et al. 2006; Tromp et al. 2005; Zhao and Jordan 2006) with broadband USArray waveforms will produce superior insight into the structure of the mantle beneath North America, but linearized tomographic inversion of phase arrival time data readily yields exciting results in regions where data from dense seismograph networks is available. We will use travel times from the transportable component of USArray, hereinafter referred to as USArrayTA, and from other sources, such as the EHB data base (Engdahl et al. 1998), to constrain 3-D mantle heterogeneity beneath North America.
Tomographic images based on USArrayTA data will help us understand first-order geological structure of and processes in the mantle beneath North America. Examples include, but are not restricted to: 1) the transition from the stable continental lithosphere at the center of the North American continent to the tectonically active domains farther west, 2) the Cascadian subduction system, 3) the Yellowstone hotspot, and 4) the relationship between current and past episodes of subduction and upper mantle upwellings and processes deeper in the mantle. Before the advent of USArrayTA, insight into mantle structure beneath the western United States was obtained either from pieced-together regional P-wave studies (e.g., figure 1A, after Dueker et al. 2001) or from global travel time or surface wave tomography (figures 1B, C, and D, …