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Mantle upwellings above slab graveyards linked to the global geoid lows

Spasojevic, Sonja and Gurnis, Michael and Sutherland, Rupert (2010) Mantle upwellings above slab graveyards linked to the global geoid lows. Nature Geoscience, 3 (6). pp. 435-438. ISSN 1752-0894. doi:10.1038/NGEO855.

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The global geoid is characterized by a semi-continuous belt of lows that surround the Pacific Ocean, including isolated minima in the Indian Ocean, Ross Sea and northeast Pacific and west Atlantic oceans. These geoid lows have been attributed to Mesozoic subduction. Geodynamic models that include slab graveyards in the lower mantle as inferred from seismic topography or from plate reconstructions correctly predict the general trend of geoid minima. However, these models fail to accurately reproduce localized geoid lows in the Indian Ocean, Ross Sea and northeast Pacific Ocean. Here we show that the geoid lows are correlated with high-velocity anomalies near the base of the mantle and low-velocity anomalies in the mid-to-upper mantle. Our mantle flow models reproduce the geoid minima if the mid-to-upper mantle upwellings are positioned above the inferred locations of ancient subducted slabs. We find that the long-wavelength trough in the geoid is linked to high-density slab graveyards in the lower mantle, whereas upwelling regions in the mantle above 1,000 km depth cause discrete lows within the larger trough. We suggest that this mode of upwelling in the mid-to-upper mantle is caused by buoyant hydrated mantle that was created by processes around and above subducted slabs.

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Gurnis, Michael0000-0003-1704-597X
Additional Information:© 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Published online: 9 May 2010. We thank R. Moucha for helpful comments on an earlier version of the letter. This work was supported through Caltech Tectonics Observatory (by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), the National Science Foundation (EAR-0609707 and EAR-0810303), the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology, and StatoilHydro. The original CitcomS software was obtained from CIG, Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics ( This is Contribution Number 10034 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences and Number 127 of the Tectonics Observatory, Caltech. Author contributions: S.S. carried out analysis and mantle convection modelling, and all authors participated in the modelling strategy, interpretation of results and preparing the manuscript.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Seismological Laboratory
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Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and TechnologyUNSPECIFIED
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Caltech Tectonics Observatory127
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences10034
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100615-114546038
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:18687
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:17 Jun 2010 05:24
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:46

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