In DepthGeophysics

Mantle plumes seen rising from Earth's core

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1032-1033
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6252.1032

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Mantle plumes, tubes of hot rock rising from Earth's core, have come into focus, ending a more than 40-year-long debate. The result comes from a sophisticated MRI-like tomographic model that used 273 large earthquakes to illuminate the interior of Earth. It revealed as many as 28 plumes, many of them underneath known volcanic hot spots at Earth's surface. The plumes are fatter than expected, which means that they carry more heat away from Earth's core, an indication that plumes are important for cooling the planet. The model also shows that the plumes bend at a depth of 1000 kilometers, which could indicate an undiscovered mineral phase transition in the lower mantle that makes it less stiff.