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Asymmetric shallow mantle structure beneath the Hawaiian Swell—evidence from Rayleigh waves recorded by the PLUME network



We present models of the 3-D shear velocity structure of the lithosphere and asthenosphere beneath the Hawaiian hotspot and surrounding region. The models are derived from long-period Rayleigh-wave phase velocities that were obtained from the analysis of seismic recordings collected during two year-long deployments for the Hawaiian Plume-Lithosphere Undersea Mantle Experiment. For this experiment, broad-band seismic sensors were deployed at nearly 70 seafloor sites as well as 10 sites on the Hawaiian Islands. Our seismic images result from a two-step inversion of path-averaged dispersion curves using the two-station method. The images reveal an asymmetry in shear velocity structure with respect to the island chain, most notably in the lower lithosphere at depths of 60 km and greater, and in the asthenosphere. An elongated, 100-km-wide and 300-km-long low-velocity anomaly reaches to depths of at least 140 km. At depths of 60 km and shallower, the lowest velocities are found near the northern end of the island of Hawaii. No major velocity anomalies are found to the south or southeast of Hawaii, at any depth. The low-velocity anomaly in the asthenosphere is consistent with an excess temperature of 200–250 °C and partial melt at the level of a few percent by volume, if we assume that compositional variations as a result of melt extraction play a minor role. We also image small-scale low-velocity anomalies within the lithosphere that may be associated with the volcanic fields surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.