Thermal and compositional structure of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle: Derivation from shear wave seismic tomography

Tara J. Deen, W. L. Griffin, G. Begg, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly, L. M. Natapov, J. Hronsky

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    Seismic tomography can provide unique information on the structure of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM), but seismic velocity reflects both temperature and composition. We present a methodology for evaluating and isolating the relative contributions of these effects, which produces maps of regional geotherm and broad compositional constraints on the SCLM from the inversion of shear wave (Vs) seismic tomography. This approach uses model geotherms quantized in steps of 2.5 mW/m2 and three mantle compositions corresponding to typical Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic SCLM. Starting from an assumed composition for a volume of SCLM, lithospheric density at surface pressure and temperature is calculated for each geotherm at each point; the optimum geotherm is taken as the one yielding a density closest to the mean value derived from mantle xenoliths (3.31 g/cm3), since density varies with composition. Results requiring densities or geotherms outside the known natural range of these parameters worldwide require the choice of a different mantle composition. This technique, applied iteratively to a 275 km × 275 km Vs model developed by S. Grand (University of Texas, Austin), results in maps of the geotherm and regional density, which allow interpretation of SCLM composition within broad limits. These results can then be compared with local (paleo)geotherms and data for mantle composition, derived from xenolith suites. Application of this technique to the SCLM beneath Africa, Siberia, and North America shows good correlation with regional geological features, xenolith data, and other geophysical data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberQ07003
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006


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