REFEREED PUBLICATIONS IN JOURNALS
Kaufl, S., V. Grayver, J. Comeau, V. Kuvshinov, M. Becken, J. Kamm, B. Erdenechimeg, and D. Sodnomsambuu, Magnetotelluric multiscale 3-D inversion reveals crustal and upper mantle structure beneath the Hangai and Gobi-Altai region in Mongolia, Geophysical Journal International, 221/1002-1028, 2020. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]Central Mongolia is a prominent region of intracontinental surface deformation and intraplate volcanism. To study these processes, which are poorly understood, we collected magnetotelluric (MT) data in the Hangai and Gobi-Altai region in central Mongolia and derived the first 3-D resistivity model of the crustal and upper mantle structure in this region. The geological and tectonic history of this region is complex, resulting in features over a wide range of spatial scales, which that are coupled through a variety of geodynamic processes. Many Earth properties that are critical for the understanding of these processes, such as temperature as well as fluid and melt properties, affect the electrical conductivity in the subsurface. 3-D imaging using MT can resolve the distribution of electrical conductivity within the Earth at scales ranging from tens of metres to hundreds of kilometres, thereby providing constraints on possible geodynamic scenarios. We present an approach to survey design, data acquisition, and inversion that aims to bridge various spatial scales while keeping the required field work and computational cost of the subsequent 3-D inversion feasible. MT transfer functions were estimated for a 650 × 400 km2 grid, which included measurements on an array with regular 50 × 50 km2 spacing and along several profiles with a denser 5–15 km spacing. The use of telluric-only data loggers on these profiles allowed for an efficient data acquisition with a high spatial resolution. A 3-D finite element forward modelling and inversion code was used to obtain the resistivity model. Locally refined unstructured hexahedral meshes allow for a multiscale model parametrization and accurate topography representation. The inversion process was carried out over four stages, whereby the result from each stage was used as input for the following stage that included a finer model parametrization and/or additional data (i.e. more stations, wider frequency range). The final model reveals a detailed resistivity structure and fits the observed data well, across all periods and site locations, offering new insights into the subsurface structure of central Mongolia. A prominent feature is a large low-resistivity zone detected in the upper mantle. This feature suggests a non-uniform lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary that contains localized upwellings that shallow to a depth of 70 km, consistent with previous studies. The 3-D model reveals the complex geometry of the feature, which appears rooted below the Eastern Hangai Dome with a second smaller feature slightly south of the Hangai Dome. Within the highly resistive upper crust, several conductive anomalies are observed. These may be explained by late Cenozoic volcanic zones and modern geothermal areas, which appear linked to mantle structures, as well as by major fault systems, which mark terrane boundaries and mineralized zones. Well resolved, heterogeneous low-resistivity zones that permeate the lower crust may be explained by fluid-rich domains.
Comeau, J., M. Becken, S. Kaufl, V. Grayver, V. Kuvshinov, Ts. Shoovdor, B. Erdenechimeg, and D. Sodnomsambuu, Evidence for terrane boundaries and suture zones across Southern Mongolia detected with a 2-dimensional magnetotelluric transect, Earth, Planets and Space, 72/1--13, pp. 1-13, 2020. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]Southern Mongolia is part of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt, the origin and evolution of which is not fully known and is often debated. It is composed of several east–west trending lithostratigraphic domains that are attributed to an assemblage of accreted terranes or tectonic zones. This is in contrast to Central Mongolia, which is dominated by a cratonic block in the Hangai region. Terranes are typically bounded by suture zones that are expected to be deep-reaching, but may be difficult to identify based on observable surface fault traces alone. Thus, attempts to match lithostratigraphic domains to surface faulting have revealed some disagreements in the positions of suspected terranes. Furthermore, the subsurface structure of this region remains relatively unknown. Therefore, high-resolution geophysical data are required to determine the locations of terrane boundaries. Magnetotelluric data and telluric-only data were acquired across Southern Mongolia on a profile along a longitude of approximately 100.5° E. The profile extends ~ 350 km from the Hangai Mountains, across the Gobi–Altai Mountains, to the China–Mongolia border. The data were used to generate an electrical resistivity model of the crust and upper mantle, presented here, that can contribute to the understanding of the structure of this region, and of the evolution of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt. The resistivity model shows a generally resistive upper crust (0–20 km) with several anomalously conductive features that are believed to indicate suture zones and the boundaries of tectonic zones. Moreover, their spatial distribution is coincident with known surface fault segments and active seismicity. The lower crust (30–45 km) becomes generally less resistive, but contains an anomalously conductive feature below the Gobi–Altai zone. This potentially agrees with studies that have argued for an allochthonous lower crust below this region that has been relaminated and metamorphosed. Furthermore, there is a large contrast in the electrical properties between identified tectonic zones, due to their unique tectonic histories. Although penetration to greater depths is limited, the magnetotelluric data indicate a thick lithosphere below Southern Mongolia, in contrast to the previously reported thin lithosphere below Central Mongolia.
Comeau, M.J., J.S. Kaufl, M. Becken, A. Kuvshinov, A.V. Grayver, J. Kamm, B. Erdenechimeg, and S. Demberel, Evidence for fluid and melt generation in response to an asthenospheric upwelling beneath the Hangai Dome, Mongolia, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 487, pp. 201-209, 2018. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]The Hangai Dome, Mongolia, is an unusual high-elevation, intra-continental plateau characterized by dispersed, low-volume, intraplate volcanism. Its subsurface structure and its origin remains unexplained, due in part to a lack of high-resolution geophysical data. Magnetotelluric data along a ∼610 km profile crossing the Hangai Dome were used to generate electrical resistivity models of the crust and upper mantle. The crust is found to be unexpectedly heterogeneous. The upper crust is highly resistive but contains several features interpreted as ancient fluid pathways and fault zones, including the South Hangai fault system and ophiolite belt that is revealed to be a major crustal boundary. South of the Hangai Dome a clear transition in crustal properties is observed which reflects the rheological differences across accreted terranes. The lower crust contains discrete zones of low-resistivity material that indicate the presence of fluids and a weakened lower crust. The upper mantle contains a large low-resistivity zone that is consistent with the presence of partial melt within an asthenospheric upwelling, believed to be driving intraplate volcanism and supporting uplift.
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Dorj, P., F. Samrock, and B. Erdenechimeg, Update of Geothermal Development of Mongolia, Proceedings World Geothermal Congress, 2020. [View Abstract]A first large scale detailed geophysical exploration work in Arkhangai province (a largest geothermal active zone) is done between 2019 and 2020. Based on the result of this geophysical exploration work a combined geothermal district heating and power production plant will be built in Arkhangai province in the coming few years. Ground source heat pump application is broadly introduced in the country using ground water and soil heating system.