Received: 23 Jun 2013 – Accepted for review: 08 Jul 2013 – Discussion started: 17 Jul 2013
Abstract. Joint interpretation of magnetotelluric and geomagnetic depth sounding results in the period range of 10–105 s in the Western European Alps offer new insights into the conductivity structure of the Earth's crust and mantle. This first large scale electromagnetic study in the Alps covers a cross-section from Germany to northern Italy and shows the importance of the alpine mountain chain as an interrupter of continuous conductors. Poor data quality due to the highly crystalline underground is overcome by Remote Reference and Robust Processing techniques and the combination of both electromagnetic methods. 3-D forward modeling reveals on the one hand interrupted dipping crustal conductors with maximum conductances of 4960 S and on the other hand a lithosphere thickening up to 208 km beneath the central Western Alps. Graphite networks arising from Palaeozoic sedimentary deposits are considered to be accountable for the occurrence of high conductivity and the distribution pattern of crustal conductors. The influence of huge sedimentary Molasse basins on the electromagnetic data is suggested to be minor compared with the influence of crustal conductors. Dipping direction (S–SE) and maximum angle (10.1°) of the northern crustal conductor reveal the main thrusting conditions beneath the Helvetic Alps whereas the existence of a crustal conductor in the Briançonnais supports theses about its belonging to the Iberian Peninsula. In conclusion the proposed model arisen from combined 3-D modeling of noise corrected electromagnetic data is able to explain the geophysical influence of various structural features in and around the Western European Alps and serves as a background for further upcoming studies.
How to cite. Al-Halbouni, D.: The European Alps as an interrupter of the Earth's conductivity structures, Solid Earth Discuss., 5, 1031–1079, https://doi.org/10.5194/sed-5-1031-2013, 2013.