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Abstract

Geological and geodynamic models of the mantle often rely on joint interpretations of published seismic tomography images and petrological/geochemical data. This approach tends to neglect the fundamental limitations of, and uncertainties in, seismic tomography results. These limitations and uncertainties involve theory, correcting for the crust, the lack of rays throughout much of the mantle, the difficulty in obtaining the true strength of anomalies, choice of what background model to subtract to reveal anomalies, and what cross-sections to select for publication. The aim of this review is to provide a relatively non-technical summary of the most important of these problems, collected together in a single paper, and presented in a form accessible to non-seismologists. Appreciation of these issues is essential if final geodynamic models are to be robust, and required by the scientific observations.