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Mantle Shear-Wave Velocity Structure Beneath the Hawaiian Hot Spot

Science  04 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5958, pp. 1388-1390
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180165

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Abstract

Defining the mantle structure that lies beneath hot spots is important for revealing their depth of origin. Three-dimensional images of shear-wave velocity beneath the Hawaiian Islands, obtained from a network of sea-floor and land seismometers, show an upper-mantle low-velocity anomaly that is elongated in the direction of the island chain and surrounded by a parabola-shaped high-velocity anomaly. Low velocities continue downward to the mantle transition zone between 410 and 660 kilometers depth, a result that is in agreement with prior observations of transition-zone thinning. The inclusion of SKS observations extends the resolution downward to a depth of 1500 kilometers and reveals a several-hundred-kilometer-wide region of low velocities beneath and southeast of Hawaii. These images suggest that the Hawaiian hot spot is the result of an upwelling high-temperature plume from the lower mantle.

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