The Formation of Hot Thermal Anomalies in Cold Subduction-Influenced Regions of Earth's Lowermost Mantle

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9 Scopus citations


The Earth's lowermost mantle is characterized by two large low shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs). The regions outside the LLSVPs have been suggested to be strongly influenced by subducted slabs and, therefore, much colder than the LLSVPs. However, localized low-velocity seismic anomalies have been detected in the subduction-influenced regions, whose origin remains unclear. Here, three-dimensional geodynamic calculations are performed, and they show that linear, ridge-like hot thermal anomalies, or thermal ridges, form in the relatively cold, downwelling regions of the lowermost mantle. Like the formation of Richter rolls due to sublithosphere small-scale convection (SSC), the thermal ridges form as a result of SSC from the basal thermal boundary layer and they extend in directions parallel to the surrounding mantle flow. The formation of thermal ridges in subduction regions of the lowermost mantle is very sensitive to the thermal structures of the subducted materials, and thermal heterogeneities brought to the bottom of the mantle by subducting slabs greatly promote the formation of thermal ridges. The formation of thermal ridges is also facilitated by the increase of core-mantle boundary heat flux and vigor of lowermost mantle convection. The thermal ridges may explain the low-velocity seismic anomalies outside of the LLSVPs in the lowermost mantle. The results suggest that the relatively cold, subduction-influenced regions of the Earth's lowermost mantle may contain localized hot anomalies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JB019312
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • hot thermal anomalies
  • low-velocity structures
  • lowermost mantle
  • mantle plumes
  • subducting slabs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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