Structure and Dynamics of Earth's Lower Mantle

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Science  02 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5876, pp. 626-628
DOI: 10.1126/science.1148028

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Processes within the lowest several hundred kilometers of Earth's rocky mantle play a critical role in the evolution of the planet. Understanding Earth's lower mantle requires putting recent seismic and mineral physics discoveries into a self-consistent, geodynamically feasible context. Two nearly antipodal large low-shear-velocity provinces in the deep mantle likely represent chemically distinct and denser material. High-resolution seismological studies have revealed laterally varying seismic velocity discontinuities in the deepest few hundred kilometers, consistent with a phase transition from perovskite to post-perovskite. In the deepest tens of kilometers of the mantle, isolated pockets of ultralow seismic velocities may denote Earth's deepest magma chamber.

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