Broadband array observations of the 300 km seismic discontinuity

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Abstract

[1] Intermittent seismic discontinuities near 250–300 km depth beneath South America and the Pacific basin are detected with high-resolution seismic array methods that use SS and PP precursors recorded at the High Lava Plains Seismic Experiment and the EarthScope Transportable Array. The transformation of coesite to stishovite in an eclogite-rich mantle composition produces a seismic discontinuity near 300 km depth; lateral changes in basalt fraction of the upper mantle will thus produce an intermittent seismic discontinuity. The sensitivity of the precursors to intermittent seismic structure is addressed using an axisymmetric finite difference model of wave propagation in the mantle. These numerical experiments find that the precursors are sensitive to structures ≥500 km in lateral extent and that the observations of this discontinuity are plausibly tied to lateral variations in basaltic composition of the upper mantle related to dynamics, such as plumes and subduction.

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