Composition versus temperature induced velocity heterogeneities in a pyrolitic lower mantle

Zhongqing Wu, Renata M. Wentzcovitch

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14 Scopus citations


Interpretation of lateral velocity heterogeneities is essential for our understanding of Earth's interior. Ferropericlase's (Fp) spin crossover (FSC) fundamentally changes their interpretation in the mid lower mantle. In a typical pyrolitic aggregate, FSC induces an unusual increase in bulk sound velocity (Vϕ) with increasing temperature at mid-lower-mantle depths. This reduces the sensitivity of longitudinal velocity (VP) to lateral temperature variations around 1700 km. Here we show that FSC also dramatically impacts the manifestation of two important types of compositional heterogeneities: i) variations in iron concentration in Fp, e.g., caused by changes in iron partitioning; ii) variation in molar fraction of Fp, as expected in slab subduction regions. FSC enhances the sensitivity of Vϕ and VP to these compositional variations by several-fold at similar depths. The opposite effects of lateral variations of temperature and composition on VP is critical for distinguishing the possible physical origin of heterogeneities in tomographic P-models. Temperature and composition variations also produce opposite types of correlation between Vϕ and shear velocity (VS) heterogeneities and between VS and density (ρ) heterogeneities. Only lateral temperature variations can produce anti-correlation between Vϕ and VS at mid lower mantle depths, while only these compositional variations can produce anti-correlation between VS and ρ in the spin crossover region and at greater depths. Together these effects suggest that heterogeneities in VP in the mid lower mantle common to multiple seismic models could originate in simultaneous lateral temperature and compositional variations in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by State Key Development Program of Basic Research of China ( 2014CB845905 ), National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 41590621 , 41274087 , 41473011 ), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities ( WK2080000078 ), and by grants NSF/EAR 1319368 , 1348066 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • bridgmanite
  • elasticity
  • first-principles calculations
  • mantle composition
  • sound velocity
  • spin transition


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