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The crustal and upper mantle velocity structure in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau is obtained from joint analysis of receiver functions and Rayleigh wave dispersions. The resulting velocity model reveals a close correlation between the thick (>60 km) crust and the presence of an intracrustal low-velocity zone beneath the Qiangtang and Songpan-Ganzi terranes as well as the northwestern Qilian orogen. However, the high Vp/Vs ratio of the crust is found only beneath the Qiangtang and Songpan-Ganzi terranes. The crustal low velocity zone does not appear in the west Qinling and southeastern Qilian orogens, which have a relatively thin (∼50 km) crust, indicating that crustal channel flow is not the primary mechanism by which the northeastern Tibetan Plateau grows. A continuous low velocity zone from the mid-to-lower crust down to 160 km beneath the eastern Kunlun fault suggests an induced local mantle upwelling after partial detachment of the lithosphere.

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This article has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Journal International ©: 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.