A Caltech Library Service

Active foundering of a continental arc root beneath the southern Sierra Nevada in California

Zandt, George and Gilbert, Hersh and Owens, Thomas J. and Ducea, Mihai and Saleeby, Jason and Jones, Craig H. (2004) Active foundering of a continental arc root beneath the southern Sierra Nevada in California. Nature, 431 (7004). pp. 41-46. ISSN 0028-0836.

PDF (Further expands on the processes related to the removal of the batholithic root beneath the Sierra Nevada. Topics include crustal anisotropy, crustal imaging resolution, and alternative basal shear-zone models) - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Seismic data provide images of crust–mantle interactions during ongoing removal of the dense batholithic root beneath the southern Sierra Nevada mountains in California. The removal appears to have initiated between 10 and 3 Myr ago with a Rayleigh–Taylor-type instability, but with a pronounced asymmetric flow into a mantle downwelling (drip) beneath the adjacent Great Valley. A nearly horizontal shear zone accommodated the detachment of the ultramafic root from its granitoid batholith. With continuing flow into the mantle drip, viscous drag at the base of the remaining ~35-km-thick crust has thickened the crust by ~7 km in a narrow welt beneath the western flank of the range. Adjacent to the welt and at the top of the drip, a V-shaped cone of crust is being dragged down tens of kilometres into the core of the mantle drip, causing the disappearance of the Moho in the seismic images. Viscous coupling between the crust and mantle is therefore apparently driving present-day surface subsidence.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle ReadCube access
Ducea, Mihai0000-0002-5322-0782
Additional Information:© 2004 Nature Publishing Group. Received 16 February 2004; Accepted 12 July 2004. G.Z. thanks G. Gehrels, P. Kapp and B.Hacker for comments on preliminary interpretations and manuscripts. Authors’ contributions: G.Z., H.G., T.J.O. and C.H.J. cooperated on the seismology analysis and interpretation. M.D. and J.S. provided the geologic and tectonic context. C.H.J. led the PASSCAL deployment to collect the data. G.Z. wrote the Article with contributions from all the authors.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory27
Issue or Number:7004
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101123-080455591
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Zandt, G., H. Gilbert, et al. (2004). "Active foundering of a continental arc root beneath the southern Sierra Nevada in California." Nature 431(7004): 41-46.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20964
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Dec 2010 20:41
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:18

Repository Staff Only: item control page