Development of Diapiric Structures in the Upper Mantle Due to Phase Transitions

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Science  28 Jun 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5014, pp. 1836-1839
DOI: 10.1126/science.252.5014.1836


Solid-state phase transitions in time-dependent mantle convection can induce diapiric flows in the upper mantle. When a deep mantle plume rises toward phase boundaries in the upper mantle, the changes in the local thermal buoyancy, local heat capacity, and latent heat associated with the phase change at a depth of 670 kilometers tend to pinch off the plume head from the feeding stem and form a diapir. This mechanism may explain episodic hot spot volcanism. The nature of the multiple phase boundaries at the boundary between the upper and lower mantle may control the fate of deep mantle plumes, allowing hot plumes to go through and retarding the tepid ones.