EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Magnetotelluric Data Across Mongolia: Implications for Intracontinental Deformation and Intraplate Volcanism — Report on New Measurements

Rafael Rigaud1, Matthew Joseph Comeau2, Michael Becken2, Alexey V. Kuvshinov1, Shoovdor Tserendug3, Erdenechimeg Batmagnai1, and Sodnomsambuu Demberel3
Rafael Rigaud et al.
  • 1ETH-Zürich, Department of Geophysics, Zürich, Switzerland (,,
  • 2Universität Münster (WWU), Institut für Geophysik, Münster, Germany (,
  • 3Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (,

Intracontinental deformation and intraplate volcanism, which occur far from tectonic plate boundaries, are not fully understood. Their origin and evolution are linked by crust-mantle interactions and mantle convection dynamics. Mongolia is an ideal natural laboratory for studying such processes because it is located far into the continental interior, several thousand kilometres from major tectonic margins.


To the north is the Siberian craton, which is relatively stable, to the northeast is an extensional regime near the Baikal rift zone, which stretches for more than one thousand kilometres, and to the south are the North China and Tarim cratons, which have northward-directed motion creating a compressional regime. Central Mongolia, which contains a high plateau (with indications of vertical motion), is characterized by a shallow lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary that deepens at the edges, notably northwards towards the Siberian Craton. Continental intraplate basaltic volcanism of Cenozoic age exists across central and northern Mongolia, with several large concentrations within the Hangai region.


As part of an ongoing project, we are investigating the lithospheric properties and lithospheric architecture beneath this region with magnetotelluric measurements and three-dimensional models of electrical resistivity. In addition, thermo-mechanical numerical modelling, with geophysically-guided constraints, is being used to provide valuable insight by testing different hypotheses for the temporal evolution and dynamic processes -- such as whether an upwelling asthenosphere and/or lithospheric removal could realistically be a consequence of delamination, edge-driven convection mechanisms from a lithospheric step, or some combination.


Towards these goals, geophysical models that image the transition from thin lithosphere to thick lithosphere (and its geometry), believed to occur beneath northern Mongolia, are beneficial. There exists a wealth of recent geophysical data across central Mongolia, in addition to petrological data. This includes a temporary broadband seismic array that covers the Gobi, Hangai, and Hovsgol regions.


In this presentation, we will report on 79 new magnetotelluric measurements acquired in 2022 in northern Mongolia across the Hovsgol and Darhad regions, as well as 77 new measurements acquired from 2020-2022 in central-east Mongolia (Bulgan, Arvaikheer). The acquired data are very good quality with low noise, a clear benefit of the remote location. Recordings were carried out at each location for approximately 1-5 days. The data typically had reliable periods up to 1,000 - 8,000 s. The new data will, ultimately, be integrated into the previously collected dataset across central Mongolia (Hangai, Bayankhongor, and Gobi-Altai), which consists of 328 measurement locations (thus approximately 500 total), which covers a total area of, currently, approximately 1000 km by 800 km. This is a notably large area, within the realm of several large regional and national magnetotelluric (and seismic) surveys. Furthermore, the data across northern Mongolia fill the last gap in a remarkable transect of existing magnetotelluric data that extends approximately 4,000 km from across the Siberian Craton to across the Tibetan Plateau.

How to cite: Rigaud, R., Joseph Comeau, M., Becken, M., V. Kuvshinov, A., Tserendug, S., Batmagnai, E., and Demberel, S.: Magnetotelluric Data Across Mongolia: Implications for Intracontinental Deformation and Intraplate Volcanism — Report on New Measurements, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9485,, 2023.