Instability of the African large low-shear-wave-velocity province due to its low intrinsic density

Qian Yuan, Mingming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Seismic observations have revealed two seismic anomalies in the lowermost mantle, one beneath Africa and the other beneath the Pacific Ocean, named large low-shear-wave-velocity provinces. These structures are generally considered to be intrinsically dense thermochemical piles that influence mantle and core processes. However, the controls on their morphology, including their relative height difference and their stability, remain unclear. Here we analyse published global shear-wave tomography models, which show that the African anomaly is about 1,000 km greater in height than the Pacific anomaly. With our numerical simulations, we find that the maximum height a thermochemical pile can reach is more controlled by its density and the surrounding mantle viscosity, and less so by its own viscosity and volume. Comparing these findings suggests that the African anomaly has a relatively lower density and thus may be less stable than the Pacific anomaly, implying the two anomalies have different compositions, dynamics and evolution histories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-339
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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