Mantle Boundary (mantle + boundary)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Subducted slabs and lateral viscosity variations: effects on the long-wavelength geoid

Nicola Tosi
SUMMARY The characteristic broad local maxima exhibited by the long-wavelength geoid over subduction zones are investigated with a numerical model of mantle flow. In a spherical axisymmetric geometry, a synthetic model of buoyancy driven subduction is used to test the effects on the geoid caused by the depth of penetration of the lithosphere into the mantle, by the viscosity stratification and by lateral viscosity variations (LVV) in the lithosphere, upper and lower mantle. The presence of anomalous slab density in the lower mantle guarantees geoid amplitudes comparable with the observations, favouring the picture of slabs that penetrate the transition zone and sink into the deep mantle. The viscosity of the lower mantle controls the long-wavelength geoid to the first order, ensuring a clear positive signal when it is at least 30-times greater than the upper-mantle viscosity. The presence of LVV in the lithosphere, in the form of weak plate margins, helps to increase the contribution of the surface topography, causing a pronounced reduction of the geoid. Localized LVV associated with the cold slab play a secondary role if they are in the upper mantle. On the other hand, highly viscous slabs in the lower mantle exert a large influence on the geoid. They cause its amplitude to increase dramatically, way beyond the values typically observed over subduction zones. Long-wavelength flow becomes less vigorous as the slab viscosity increases. Deformation in the upper mantle becomes more localized and power is transferred to short wavelengths, causing the long-wavelength surface topography to diminish and the total geoid to increase. Slabs may be then weakened in the lower mantle or retain their high viscosity while other mechanisms act to lower the geoid. It is shown that a phase change from perovskite to post-perovskite above the core,mantle boundary can cause the geoid to reduce significantly, thereby helping to reconcile models and observations. [source]

Imaging the lowermost mantle (D,) and the core,mantle boundary with SKKS coda waves

Ping Wang
SUMMARY In our previous studies we developed a method for imaging heterogeneity at and near the core,mantle boundary (CMB) with a generalized Radon transform (GRT) of (transverse component, broad-band) ScS data, and we developed a statistical model for producing images of the D, discontinuity with variable confidence levels. In these applications, the background is smooth and perturbations are represented as contrasts. Here we extend the theory to allow (known) discontinuities, such as the CMB, in the background model. The resulting imaging operator, which is formally not a GRT, can be used, either alone or along with ScS, for the imaging of lowermost mantle structure and, in particular, the D, discontinuity with the scattered SKKS wavefield. Synthetic seismograms calculated with the WKBJ method are used to test the performance of our approach. As a proof of concept, we transform ,38 000 radial component SKKS waveforms into image gathers of a CMB patch beneath Central America. The SKKS image gathers and image traces are in good agreement with the image traces obtained from the GRT transform of ScS data. [source]

Seismic evidence for a sharp lithospheric base persisting to the lowermost mantle beneath the Caribbean

Tadashi Kito
SUMMARY Broad-band data from South American earthquakes recorded by Californian seismic networks are analysed using a newly developed seismic wave migration method,the slowness backazimuth weighted migration (SBWM). Using the SBWM, out-of-plane seismic P -wave reflections have been observed. The reflection locations extend throughout the Earth's lower mantle, down to the core,mantle boundary (CMB) and coincide with the edges of tomographically mapped high seismic velocities. Modelling using synthetic seismograms suggests that a narrow (10,15 km) low- or high-velocity lamella with about 2 per cent velocity contrast can reproduce the observed reflected waveforms, but other explanations may exist. Considering the reflection locations and synthetic modelling, the observed out-of-plane energy is well explained by underside reflections off a sharp reflector at the base of the subducted lithosphere. We also detect weaker reflections corresponding to the tomographically mapped top of the slab, which may arise from the boundary between the Nazca plate and the overlying former basaltic oceanic crust. The joint interpretation of the waveform modelling and geodynamic considerations indicate mass flux of the former oceanic lithosphere and basaltic crust across the 660 km discontinuity, linking processes and structure at the top and bottom of the Earth's mantle, supporting the idea of whole mantle convection. [source]

Radial resolving power of far-field differential sea-level highstands in the inference of mantle viscosity

Roblyn A. Kendall
SUMMARY For two decades leading to the late 1980s, the prevailing view from studies of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) data was that the viscosity of the Earth's mantle increased moderately, if at all, from the base of the lithosphere to the core,mantle boundary. This view was first questioned by Nakada & Lambeck, who argued that differential sea-level (DSL) highstands between pairs of sites in the Australian region preferred an increase of approximately two orders of magnitude from the mean viscosity of the upper to the lower mantle, in accord with independent inferences from observables related to mantle convection. We use non-linear Bayesian inference to provide the first formal resolving power analysis of the Australian DSL data set. We identify three radial regions, two within the upper mantle (110,270 km and 320,570 km depth) and one in the lower mantle (1225,2265 km depth), over which the average of viscosity is well constrained by the data. We conclude that: (1) the DSL data provide a resolution in the inference of upper mantle viscosity that is better than implied by forward analyses based on isoviscous regions above and below the 670 km depth discontinuity and (2) the data do not strongly constrain viscosity at either the base or top of the lower mantle. Finally, our inversions also quantify the significant bias that may be introduced in inversions of the DSL highstands that do not simultaneously estimate the thickness of the elastic lithosphere. [source]

Magnetic and viscous coupling at the core,mantle boundary: inferences from observations of the Earth's nutations

B. A. Buffett
SUMMARY Dissipative core,mantle coupling is evident in observations of the Earth's nutations, although the source of this coupling is uncertain. Magnetic coupling occurs when conducting materials on either side of the boundary move through a magnetic field. In order to explain the nutation observations with magnetic coupling, we must assume a high (metallic) conductivity on the mantle side of the boundary and a rms radial field of 0.69 mT. Much of this field occurs at short wavelengths, which cannot be observed directly at the surface. High levels of short-wavelength field impose demands on the power needed to regenerate the field through dynamo action in the core. We use a numerical dynamo model from the study of Christensen & Aubert (2006) to assess whether the required short-wavelength field is physically plausible. By scaling the numerical solution to a model with sufficient short-wavelength field, we obtain a total ohmic dissipation of 0.7,1 TW, which is within current uncertainties. Viscous coupling is another possible explanation for the nutation observations, although the effective viscosity required for this is 0.03 m2 s,1 or higher. Such high viscosities are commonly interpreted as an eddy viscosity. However, physical considerations and laboratory experiments limit the eddy viscosity to 10,4 m2 s,1, which suggests that viscous coupling can only explain a few percent of the dissipative torque between the core and the mantle. [source]

Thickness of the lithosphere east of the Dead Sea Transform

Ayman Mohsen
SUMMARY We use the S receiver function method to study the lithosphere at the Dead Sea Transform (DST). A temporary network of 22 seismic broad-band stations was operated on both sides of the DST from 2000 to 2001 as part of the DESERT project. We also used data from six additional permanent broad-band seismic stations at the DST and in the surrounding area, that is, in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Cyprus. Clear S -to- P converted phases from the crust,mantle boundary (Moho) and a deeper discontinuity, which we interpret as lithosphere,asthenosphere boundary (LAB) have been observed. The Moho depth (30,38 km) obtained from S receiver functions agrees well with the results from P receiver functions and other geophysical data. We observe thinning of the lithosphere on the eastern side of the DST from 80 km in the north of the Dead Sea to about 65 km at the Gulf of Aqaba. On the western side of the DST, the few data indicate a thin LAB of about 65 km. For comparison, we found a 90-km-thick lithosphere in eastern Turkey and a 160-km-thick lithosphere under the Arabian shield, respectively. These observations support previous suggestions, based on xenolith data, heat flow observations, regional uplift history and geodynamic modelling, that the lithosphere around DST has been significantly thinned in the Late Cenozoic, likely following rifting and spreading of the Red Sea. [source]

Analytical approach for the toroidal relaxation of viscoelastic earth

Hansheng Wang
SUMMARY This paper is concerned with post-seismic toroidal deformation in a spherically symmetric, non-rotating, linear-viscoelastic, isotropic Maxwell earth model. Analytical expressions for characteristic relaxation times and relaxation strengths are found for viscoelastic toroidal deformation, associated with surface tangential stress, when there are two to five layers between the core,mantle boundary and Earth's surface. The multilayered models can include lithosphere, asthenosphere, upper and lower mantles and even low-viscosity ductile layer in the lithosphere. The analytical approach is self-consistent in that the Heaviside isostatic solution agrees with fluid limit. The analytical solution can be used for high-precision simulation of the toroidal relaxation in five-layer earths and the results can also be considered as a benchmark for numerical methods. Analytical solution gives only stable decaying modes,unstable mode, conjugate complex mode and modes of relevant poles with orders larger than 1, are all excluded, and the total number of modes is found to be just the number of viscoelastic layers between the core,mantle boundary and Earth's surface,however, any elastic layer between two viscoelastic layers is also counted. This confirms previous finding where numerical method (i.e. propagator matrix method) is used. We have studied the relaxation times of a lot of models and found the propagator matrix method to agree very well with those from analytical results. In addition, the asthenosphere and lithospheric ductile layer are found to have large effects on the amplitude of post-seismic deformation. This also confirms the findings of previous works. [source]

Variations in the Earth's gravity field caused by torsional oscillations in the core

Mathieu Dumberry
SUMMARY We investigate whether a component of the flow in the Earth's fluid core, namely torsional oscillations, could be detected in gravity field data at the surface and whether it could explain some of the observed time variations in the elliptical part of the gravity field (J2). Torsional oscillations are azimuthal oscillations of rigid coaxial cylindrical surfaces and have typical periods of decades. This type of fluid motion supports geostrophic pressure gradients, which produce deformations of the core,mantle boundary. Because of the density discontinuity between the core and the mantle, such deformations produce changes in the gravity field that, because of the flow geometry, are both axisymmetric and symmetric about the equator. Torsional oscillations are thus expected to produce time variations in the zonal harmonics of even degree in the gravity field. Similarly, the changes in the rotation rates of the mantle and inner core that occur to balance the change in angular momentum carried by the torsional oscillations also produce zonal variations in gravity. We have built a model to calculate the changes in the gravity field and in the rotation rates of the mantle and inner core produced by torsional oscillations. We show that the changes in the rotation rate of the inner core produce changes in J2 that are a few orders of magnitude too small to be observed. The amplitudes of the changes in J2 from torsional oscillations are 10 times smaller than the temporal changes that are observed to occur about a linear secular trend. However, provided the mechanism responsible for these changes in J2 is identified and that this contribution is removed from the data, it may be possible in the future to detect the lowest harmonic degrees of the torsional oscillations in the gravity field data. We also show that torsional oscillations have contributed to the linear secular change in J2 by about ,0.75 10,12 per year in the last 20 years. Finally, the associated change in the vertical ground motion at the surface of the Earth that is predicted by our mechanism is of the order of 0.2 mm, which is too small to be detected with the current precision in measurements. [source]

Simulated geomagnetic reversals and preferred virtual geomagnetic pole paths

C. Kutzner
SUMMARY The question of whether virtual geomagnetic poles (VGPs) recorded during reversals and excursions show a longitudinal preference is a controversial one amongst palaeomagnetists. One possible mechanism for such VGP clustering is the heterogeneity of heat flux at the core,mantle boundary (CMB). We use 3-D convection-driven numerical dynamo models with imposed non-uniform CMB heat flow that show stochastic reversals of the dipole field. We calculate transitional VGPs for a large number of token sites at the Earth's surface. In a model with a simple heat flux variation given by a Y22 harmonic, the VGP density maps for individual reversals differ substantially from each other, but the VGPs have a tendency to fall around a longitude of high heat flow. The mean VGP density for many reversals and excursions shows a statistically significant correlation with the heat flow. In a model with an imposed heat flux pattern derived from seismic tomography we find maxima of the mean VGP density at American and East Asian longitudes, roughly consistent with the VGP paths seen in several palaeomagnetic studies. We find that low-latitude regions of high heat flow are centres of magnetic activity where intense magnetic flux bundles are generated. They contribute to the equatorial dipole component and bias its orientation in longitude. During reversals the equatorial dipole part is not necessarily dominant at the Earth's surface, but is strong enough to explain the longitudinal preference of VGPs as seen from different sites. [source]

Can the Earth's dynamo run on heat alone?

David Gubbins
SUMMARY The power required to drive the geodynamo places significant constraints on the heat passing across the core,mantle boundary and the Earth's thermal history. Calculations to date have been limited by inaccuracies in the properties of liquid iron mixtures at core pressures and temperatures. Here we re-examine the problem of core energetics in the light of new first-principles calculations for the properties of liquid iron. There is disagreement on the fate of gravitational energy released by contraction on cooling. We show that only a small fraction of this energy, that associated with heating resulting from changes in pressure, is available to drive convection and the dynamo. This leaves two very simple equations in the cooling rate and radioactive heating, one yielding the heat flux out of the core and the other the entropy gain of electrical and thermal dissipation, the two main dissipative processes. This paper is restricted to thermal convection in a pure iron core; compositional convection in a liquid iron mixture is considered in a companion paper. We show that heat sources alone are unlikely to be adequate to power the geodynamo because they require a rapid secular cooling rate, which implies a very young inner core, or a combination of cooling and substantial radioactive heating, which requires a very large heat flux across the core,mantle boundary. A simple calculation with no inner core shows even higher heat fluxes are required in the absence of latent heat before the inner core formed. [source]

Convection in the Earth's core driven by lateral variations in the core,mantle boundary heat flux

Steven John Gibbons
Summary Moving core fluid maintains an isothermal core,mantle boundary (CMB), so lateral variations in the CMB heat flow result from mantle convection. Such variations will drive thermal winds, even if the top of the core is stably stratified. These flows may contribute to the magnetic secular variation and are investigated here using a simple, non-magnetic numerical model of the core. The results depend on the equatorial symmetry of the boundary heat flux variation. Large-scale equatorially symmetric (ES) heat flux variations at the outer surface of a rapidly rotating spherical shell drive deeply penetrating flows that are strongly suppressed in stratified fluid. Smaller-scale ES heat flux variations drive flows less dominated by rotation and so less inhibited by stratification. Equatorially anti-symmetric flux variations drive flows an order of magnitude less energetic than those driven by ES patterns but, due to the nature of the Coriolis force, are less suppressed by stratification. The response of the rotating core fluid to a general CMB heat flow pattern will then depend strongly on the subadiabatic temperature profile. Imposing a lateral heat flux variation linearly related to a model of seismic tomography in the lowermost mantle drives flow in a density stratified fluid that reproduces some features found in flows inverted from geomagnetic data. [source]

Mineral chemistry of spinel peridotite xenoliths from Baengnyeong Island, South Korea, and its implications for the paleogeotherm of the uppermost mantle

ISLAND ARC, Issue 3 2005
Sung Hi Choi
Abstract The mantle-derived xenoliths entrained in the Pliocene basanite from Baengnyeong Island, South Korea, are spinel lherzolites and spinel harzburgites. The overall compositional range of the Baengnyeong xenoliths matches that of the post-Archean xenoliths of lithospheric mantle origin from eastern China, but without any compositional evidence for a refractory Archean mantle root. Mineral compositions of the xenoliths have been used to estimate the equilibrium temperatures and pressures, and to construct a paleogeothermal gradient of the source region. The xenolith-derived paleogeotherm is constrained from about 820C at 7.3 kbar to 1000C at 20.6 kbar. Like those from the post-Archean Chinese xenoliths of lithospheric mantle origin, the Baengnyeong geotherm is considerably elevated relative to the conductive models at the depth of the crust,mantle boundary, reflecting a thermal perturbation probably related to lithospheric thinning. There is no significant P/T difference between harzburgite and lherzolite, which suggests that the harzburgites are interlayered with lherzolites within the depth interval beneath Baengnyeong Island. [source]

Seismic constraints on Earth's small-scale structure

Sebastian Rost
The small-scale structure of the Earth's interior is more difficult to access than the big picture. In the Bullerwell Lecture 2009, Sebastian Rost discusses seismic studies targeting small-scale structure at the core,mantle boundary, including areas containing partially molten mantle material and the remnants of subducted slabs, and assesses how they influence aspects of the Earth's dynamics. [source]