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Journal Articles Earth and Planetary Science Letters Year : 2022

Dense mantle flows periodically spaced below ocean basins


Understanding mantle flow is key to elucidate how deep Earth dynamics relate to tectonics at the global scale. The convective mass transport is reflected in lateral variations of the gravity field, seismic velocities, as well as deformations of the Earth's surface. Yet, upper to mid-mantle dynamics have been difficult to constrain at the medium scales of thousands of km. Here, we analyze the second-order horizontal derivatives of seafloor topography and of the gravity potential over the Pacific and Northern Indian ocean basins, and provide evidence for periodic undulations of 1600-2000 km wavelength in both signals, elongated along the direction of absolute plate motion. We investigate potential crustal and lithospheric sources and show that at least part of this signal must originate below the lithosphere, with alignments of sub-lithospheric upper mantle mass excess below seafloor lows. Furthermore, we find that these alignments coincide geographically over wide areas with similarly periodic slow seismic velocity fingers located at upper mantle depths. These two fields may thus record an intermediate scale of mantle convection below ocean basins, which cannot be explained by purely thermal convection and requires instead lateral variations in composition in the upper mantle. Elucidating the nature of the detected mass excess sources coincident with the slow seismic velocities calls for a joint dynamical modeling of all observations in a thermo-chemical context.
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Dates and versions

insu-03776402 , version 1 (13-09-2022)



Isabelle Panet, Marianne Greff-Lefftz, Barbara Romanowicz. Dense mantle flows periodically spaced below ocean basins. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2022, 594, ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2022.117745⟩. ⟨insu-03776402⟩
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