Mantle reflectivity structure beneath oceanic hotspots



This study applies high-resolution Radon transform to a large set of SS precursors and explores the mantle reflectivity structure beneath 17 potentially ‘deep-rooted’ hotspots. The combined reduced time (τ) and ray parameter (p) information effectively constrains the depth, spatial distribution and sharpness of upper-/mid-mantle reflectors. The olivine to wadsleyite phase boundary is deeper than the ocean and global averages and produces a dominant τ–p domain signal. Laterally coherent observations of the deep 410-km seismic discontinuity, thin upper mantle transition zone and weak/absent 520-km reflector beneath hotspots make compelling arguments for large-scale, hot thermal anomalies in the top 400–600 km of the mantle. On the other hand, a relatively ‘flat’ and weak reflector at ∼653 km is inconsistent with ringwoodite to silicate perovskite + magnesiowüstite transformation at temperatures greater than 2000 K. The lack of a negative correlation between topography and temperature implies (1) average or below-average temperatures at 600–700 km depths or (2) high temperatures and a dominating majorite garnet to Ca perovskite phase transformation. The proper choice between these two scenarios will directly impact the origin and depth of mantle plumes beneath hotspots. We further identify lower-mantle reflectors at 800–950 and 1100–1350 km depths beneath a number of the hotspots. Their presence implies that the chemistry and thermodynamics of the mid-mantle may be more complex than suggested by seismic tomography.