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  1. Abstract

    Two large low velocity provinces (LLVPs) are observed in Earth's lower mantle, beneath Africa and the Pacific Ocean, respectively. The maximum height of the African LLVP is ∼1,000 km larger than that of the Pacific LLVP, but what causes this height difference remains unclear. LLVPs are often interpreted as thermochemical piles whose morphology is greatly controlled by the surrounding mantle flow. Seismic observations have revealed that while some subducted slabs are laterally deflected at ∼660–1,200 km, other slabs penetrate into the lowermost mantle. Here, through geodynamic modeling experiments, we show that rapid sinking of stagnant slabs to the lowermost mantle can cause significant height increases of nearby thermochemical piles. Our results suggest that the African LLVP may have been pushed more strongly and longer by surrounding mantle flows to reach a much shallower depth than the Pacific LLVP, perhaps since the Tethys slabs sank to the lowermost mantle.

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  2. Abstract

    The carbon and water cycles in the Earth's interior are linked to key planetary processes, such as mantle melting, degassing, chemical differentiation, and advection. However, the role of water in the carbon exchange between the mantle and core is not well known. Here, we show experimental results of a reaction between Fe3C and H2O at pressures and temperatures of the deep mantle and core‐mantle boundary (CMB). The reaction produces diamond, FeO, and FeHx, suggesting that water can liberate carbon from the core in the form of diamond (“core carbon extraction”) while the core gains hydrogen, if subducted water reaches to the CMB. Therefore, Earth's deep water and carbon cycles can be linked. The extracted core carbon can explain a significant amount of the present‐day mantle carbon. Also, if diamond can be collected by mantle flow in the region, it can result in unusually high seismic‐velocity structures.

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  3. Abstract

    Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) in the lowermost mantle are key to understanding the chemical composition and thermal structure of the deep Earth, but their origins have long been debated. Bridgmanite, the most abundant lower-mantle mineral, can incorporate extensive amounts of iron (Fe) with effects on various geophysical properties. Here our high-pressure experiments and ab initio calculations reveal that a ferric-iron-rich bridgmanite coexists with an Fe-poor bridgmanite in the 90 mol% MgSiO3–10 mol% Fe2O3system, rather than forming a homogeneous single phase. The Fe3+-rich bridgmanite has substantially lower velocities and a higherVP/VSratio than MgSiO3bridgmanite under lowermost-mantle conditions. Our modeling shows that the enrichment of Fe3+-rich bridgmanite in a pyrolitic composition can explain the observed features of the LLSVPs. The presence of Fe3+-rich materials within LLSVPs may have profound effects on the deep reservoirs of redox-sensitive elements and their isotopes.

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  4. Abstract

    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.

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  5. SUMMARY The presence of seismic anisotropy at the base of the Earth's mantle is well established, but there is no consensus on the deformation mechanisms in lower mantle minerals that could explain it. Strong anisotropy in magnesium post-perovskite (pPv) has been invoked, but different studies disagree on the dominant slip systems at play. Here, we aim to further constrain this by implementing the most recent results from atomistic models and high-pressure deformation experiments, coupled with a realistic composition and a 3-D geodynamic model, to compare the resulting deformation-induced anisotropy with seismic observations of the lowermost mantle. We account for forward and reverse phase transitions from bridgmanite (Pv) to pPv. We find that pPv with either dominant (001) or (010) slip can both explain the seismically observed anisotropy in colder regions where downwellings turn to horizontal flow, but only a model with dominant (001) slip matches seismic observations at the root of hotter large-scale upwellings. Allowing for partial melt does not change these conclusions, while it significantly increases the strength of anisotropy and reduces shear and compressional velocities at the base of upwellings. 
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  6. SUMMARY The rise of mantle plumes to the base of the lithosphere leads to observable surface expressions, which provide important information about the deep mantle structure. However, the process of plume–lithosphere interaction and its surface expressions remain not well understood. In this study, we perform 3-D spherical numerical simulations to investigate the relationship between surface observables induced by plume–lithosphere interaction (including dynamic topography, geoid anomaly and melt production rate) and the physical properties of plume and lithosphere (including plume size, plume excess temperature, plume viscosity, and lithosphere viscosity and thickness). We find that the plume-induced surface expressions have strong spatial and temporal variations. Before reaching the base of the lithosphere, the rise of a plume head in the deep mantle causes positive and rapid increase of dynamic topography and geoid anomaly at the surface but no melt production. The subsequent impinging of a plume head at the base of the lithosphere leads to further increase of dynamic topography and geoid anomaly and causes rapid increase of melt production. After reaching maximum values, these plume-induced observables become relatively stable and are more affected by the plume conduit. In addition, whereas the geoid anomaly and dynamic topography decrease from regions above the plume centre to regions above the plume edge, the melt production always concentrates at the centre part of the plume. We also find that the surface expressions have different sensitivities to plume and lithosphere properties. The dynamic topography significantly increases with the plume size, plume excess temperature and plume viscosity. The geoid anomaly also increases with the size and excess temperature of the plume but is less sensitive to plume viscosity. Compared to the influence of plume properties, the dynamic topography and geoid anomaly are less affected by lithosphere viscosity and thickness. The melt production significantly increases with plume size, plume excess temperature and plume viscosity, but decreases with lithosphere viscosity and thickness. 
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