Lower mantle thermal structure deduced from seismic tomography, mineral physics and numerical modelling

O. Čadek, D. A. Yuen, V. Steinbach, A. Chopelas, C. Matyska

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The long-wavelength thermal anomalies in the lower mantle have been mapped out using several seismic tomographic models in conjunction with thermodynamic parameters derived from high-pressure mineral physics experiments. These parameters are the depth variations of thermal expansivity and of the proportionality factor between changes in density and seismic velocity. The giant plume-like structures in the lower mantle under the Pacific Ocean and Africa have outer fringes with thermal anomalies around 300-400 K, but very high temperatures are found in the center of the plumes near the base of the core-mantle boundary. These extreme values can exceed +1500 K and may reflect large hot thermal anomalies in the lower mantle, which are supported by recent measurements of high melting temperatures of perovskite and iron. Extremely cold anomalies, around -1500 K, are found for anomalies in the deep mantle around the Pacific rim and under South America. Numerical simulations show that large negative thermal anomalies of this magnitude can be produced in the lower mantle, following a catastrophic flushing event. Cold anomalies in the mid-lower mantle have modest magnitudes of around -500 K. A correlation pattern exists between the present-day locations of cold masses in the lower mantle and the sites of past subduction since the Cretaceous. Results from correlation analysis show that the slab mass-flux in the lower mantle did not conform to a steady-state nature but exhibited time-dependent behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-402
Number of pages18
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank R. Boehler, Shun Karato and J. Moser for stimulating discussions, P.J. Morin, H.B. Kyvalova and J. Phillips for technical assistance, and T. Bui and S. Rabie for manuscript preparation. This research was supported by the NSF, NASA, the Deutsche Forschung Gemeinschaft, the German-Fulbright program and the Von Humboldt Stiftung.

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