Time Scales and Heterogeneous Structure in Geodynamic Earth Models

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Science  03 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5360, pp. 91-95
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5360.91

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Computer models of mantle convection constrained by the history of Cenozoic and Mesozoic plate motions explain some deep-mantle structural heterogeneity imaged by seismic tomography, especially those related to subduction. They also reveal a 150-million-year time scale for generating thermal heterogeneity in the mantle, comparable to the record of plate motion reconstructions, so that the problem of unknown initial conditions can be overcome. The pattern of lowermost mantle structure at the core-mantle boundary is controlled by subduction history, although seismic tomography reveals intense large-scale hot (low-velocity) upwelling features not explicitly predicted by the models.

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