Global mantle heterogeneity and its influence on teleseismic regional tomography

Dapeng Zhao, Yoshihiro Yamamoto, Takahiro Yanada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


A new global P-wave tomography model is determined using a flexible-grid parameterization. This new model better reveals the mantle structure under the polar regions than the previous tomographic models. The subducting slabs are generally imaged clearly as high-velocity (high-V) zones. The young slabs are still subducting in the upper mantle and the mantle transition zone (MTZ), whereas the old and ancient slabs are either stagnant in the MTZ or have subducted down to the lower mantle, even reaching the core-mantle boundary. Low-velocity (low-V) anomalies are generally revealed in the mantle under the hotspot regions. It seems that a variety of mantle upwelling (plumes) exist. Some strong plumes are visible in the whole mantle under the long-living hotspots, such as those in south-central Pacific, Africa, Hawaii and Iceland, whereas weak plumes are visible in only some depth range under the minor hotspots. Under the intraplate volcanoes in East Eurasia, Bering Sea and West Alaska, significant low-V anomalies are revealed in the upper mantle, which may reflect hot and wet upwelling associated with corner flows in the big mantle wedge (BMW) above the stagnant Pacific slab in the MTZ and perhaps deep slab dehydration as well. The subduction-triggered magmatism in the BMW may be a new class of mantle plumes. We also used the new global model to investigate the influence of whole-mantle heterogeneity on the determination of upper-mantle tomography under Japan with a teleseismic inversion method. The results show that the mantle heterogeneities outside the target volume of regional tomography can cause significant changes (~. 0.2-0.4. s) to the observed relative travel-time residuals of a distant earthquake. The pattern of regional tomography remains the same even after correcting for the whole-mantle heterogeneity, but there are some changes in the amplitude of velocity anomalies in the regional tomography. Hence it is necessary to correct for the mantle heterogeneities outside the target volume so as to obtain a better regional tomography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-616
Number of pages22
JournalGondwana Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar


  • Geophysics
  • Global tomography
  • Hotspots
  • Intraplate volcanism
  • Lithosphere
  • Mantle plumes
  • Regional tomography
  • Solid Earth
  • Subducting slabs


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