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Moho Depth of Northern Baja California, Mexico, From Teleseismic Receiver Functions

Ramirez, E. E. and Bataille, Klaus and Vidal-Villegas, J. A. and Stock, J. M. and Ramírez-Hernández, J. (2021) Moho Depth of Northern Baja California, Mexico, From Teleseismic Receiver Functions. Earth and Space Science, 8 (6). Art. No. e2020EA001463. ISSN 2333-5084. doi:10.1029/2020EA001463.

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We estimated Moho depths from data recorded by permanent and temporary broadband seismic stations deployed in northern Baja California, Mexico, using the receiver function technique. This region is composed of two subregions of contrasting geological and topographical characteristics: the Peninsular Ranges of Baja California (PRBC), a batholith with high elevations (up to 2,600 m); and the Mexicali Valley (MV) region, a sedimentary environment close to sea level. Crustal thickness derived from the P-to-S converted phases at 29 seismic stations were analyzed in three profiles: Two that cross the two subregions, in ∼W-E direction, and the third one that runs over the PRBC in a N-S direction. For the PRBC, Moho depths vary from 35 to 45 km, from 33°N to 32°N; and from 30 to 46 km depth from 32°N to 30.5°N. From a profile that crosses the subregions in the W-E direction; Moho depths vary from 45 to ∼34 km under western and eastern PRBC, respectively; with an abrupt change of depth under the Main Gulf Escarpment (30°), from ∼32 to 30 km; and depths of 17–20 km under the MV. Moho depths of the profile in an ∼ W-E direction at ∼31.5°N are from ∼30 to 40 km, under topography that increases from 0 to 2,600 m; and became shallower (16 km depth) as the profile reaches the Gulf of California. These results show that deeper Moho is related to higher elevations with an abrupt change under the Main Gulf Escarpment, except for western PRBC where the Moho depth is not simply reflecting isostatic compensation.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemUSGS Earthquake Catalog ItemNorthwest Mexico Seismic Network ItemFuncLab toolbox
Ramirez, E. E.0000-0002-8515-1128
Bataille, Klaus0000-0001-6006-6747
Vidal-Villegas, J. A.0000-0002-5845-8829
Stock, J. M.0000-0003-4816-7865
Ramírez-Hernández, J.0000-0001-5427-1752
Additional Information:© 2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. Issue Online: 04 June 2021; Version of Record online: 04 June 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 07 April 2021; Manuscript accepted: 13 March 2021; Manuscript revised: 07 March 2021; Manuscript received: 14 September 2020. Part of the financial support for this project was provided by CONACYT (CB-2009-133019 SEP-CONACYT). The first author worked under the Scholarship Number 254218 granted by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT), the CONACYT 2018 Foreign Mobility Fellowship (291250), and by the Mobility Fellowship granted by the Autonomous University of Baja California: research residence (announcement 76). The comments and suggestions provided by Christian Stanciu and the anonymous reviewer substantially improved the content of this article. Alejandra Núñez-Leal facilitated teleseismic data streams from the local seismic network (RESNOM). For the installation and service for the seismic stations, the authors acknowledge Oscar Gálvez, Luis Orozco, and Ignacio Méndez, from the Earth Sciences Division of CICESE. Sergio Arregui provided the main script used for creating the maps in Generic Mapping Tools. J. Antonio Vidal-Villegas dedicates this article to the memory of Luis R. Orozco León (1951-2021), for many years the engineer in charge of maintenence the RESNOM stations. Data Availability Statement: Raw and processed seismic signals, as well as the poles and zeros of stations and main scripts used can be found in ( Teleseismic catalog was obtained from the USGS Earthquake Catalog, available at (last accessed September 2020). Data from the Northwest Mexico Seismic Network are available, since September 10, 2014, from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology Data Management Center (IRIS-DMC) at (last accessed September 2020). The teleseismic data used in this study and the stations Dataless are available upon request to M. Alejandra Nuñez-Leal ( The P-wave travel times were computed, and added to earthquakes data with TauP. The FuncLab toolbox used for estimating the Moho depth is available at (last accessed September 2020). Some plots were made using the Generic Mapping Tools.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)CB-2009-133019 SEP-CONACYT
Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)254218
Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT)291250
Universidad Autónoma de Baja CaliforniaUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Mexicali Valley; Moho; Moho Northern Baja California, Mexico; Peninsular Ranges of Baja California; receiver function
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201022-104923841
Persistent URL:
Official Citation: Ramírez, E. E., Bataille, K., Vidal-Villegas, J. A., Stock, J. M., & Ramírez-Hernández, J. (2021). Moho depth of northern Baja California, Mexico, from teleseismic receiver functions. Earth and Space Science, 8, e2020EA001463.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106221
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Oct 2020 18:09
Last Modified:09 Jun 2021 21:18

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