Rising Through Earth's Mantle

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Science  03 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5446, pp. 1865-1866
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5446.1865

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Convection in Earth's mantle is driven by temperature and density gradients and carries vast amounts of partially molten rock through Earth's mantle. Subducting oceanic plates have been traced from the top to the bottom of the mantle, but the nature of the upward flow is still a matter of debate. Seismic studies by Goes et al. (page 1928) and Ritsema et al. (page 1925) indicate large-scale upwellings of hot material in the lower mantle that extend all the way to the surface. The results are interpreted as direct evidence for the deep driving forces that cause rifting and intraplate volcanism in Central Europe and East Africa.