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Geodynamics Series

 

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  • Core-mantle boundary

Article

GEODYNAMICS SERIES, VOL. 28, PP. 209-230, 1998

Geodynamically consistent seismic velocity predictions at the base of the mantle

I. Sidorin and M. Gurnis

A model of thermoelastic properties for a chemically homogeneous adiabatic lower mantle is calculated. Constraints provided by this model are used in convection models to study dynamics of a chemically distinct layer at the bottom of the mantle. We find that the layer must be at least 2% denser than the overlying mantle to survive for a geologically significant period of time. Realistic decrease with depth of the thermal expansivity increases layer stability but is unable to prevent it from entrainment. Seismic velocities are computed for an assumed composition by applying the thermal and compositional perturbations obtained in convection simulations to the adiabatic values. The predicted velocity jump at the top of the chemical layer is closer to the CMB in the cold regions than in the hot. The elevation of the discontinuity above CMB in the cold regions decreases with increasing thermal expansivity and increases with increasing density contrast, while in the hot regions we find that the opposite is true. If the density contrast is small, the layer may vanish under downwellings. However, whenever the layer is present in the downwelling regions, it also exists under the upwellings. For a 4% density contrast and realistic values of expansivity, we find that the layer must be more than 400 km thick on average to be consistent with the seismically observed depth of the discontinuity. A simple chemical layer cannot be used to interpret the D″ discontinuity: the required change in composition is large and must be complex, since enrichment in any single mineral probably cannot provide the required impedance contrast. A simple chemical layer cannot explain the spatial intermittance of the discontinuity.

Citation: Sidorin, I., and M. Gurnis (1998), Geodynamically consistent seismic velocity predictions at the base of the mantle, in The Core-Mantle Boundary Region, Geodyn. Ser., vol. 28, edited by M. Gurnis et al., pp. 209–230, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/GD028p0209.

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