Superplumes from the Core-Mantle Boundary to the Lithosphere: Implications for Heat Flux

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Science  19 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5567, pp. 513-516
DOI: 10.1126/science.1069404

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Three-dimensional modeling of upper-mantle anelastic structure reveals that thermal upwellings associated with the two superplumes, imaged by seismic elastic tomography at the base of the mantle, persist through the upper-mantle transition zone and are deflected horizontally beneath the lithosphere. This explains the unique transverse shear wave isotropy in the central Pacific. We infer that the two superplumes may play a major and stable role in supplying heat and horizontal flow to the low-viscosity asthenospheric channel, lubricating plate motions and feeding hot spots. We suggest that more heat may be carried through the core-mantle boundary than is accounted for by hot spot fluxes alone.

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