The Afar Depression and its adjacent areas are underlain by an upper mantle marked by some of the world's largest negative velocity anomalies, which are frequently attributed to the thermal influences of a lower-mantle plume. In spite of numerous studies, however, the existence of a plume beneath the area remains enigmatic, partially due to inadequate quantities of broad-band seismic data and the limited vertical resolution at the mantle transition zone (MTZ) depth of the techniques employed by previous investigations. In this study, we use an unprecedented quantity (over 14 500) of P-to-S receiver functions (RFs) recorded by 139 stations from 12 networks to image the 410 and 660 km discontinuities and map the spatial variation of the thickness of the MTZ. Non-linear stacking of the RFs under a 1-D velocity model shows robust P-to-S conversions from both discontinuities, and their apparent depths indicate the presence of an upper-mantle low-velocity zone beneath the entire study area. The Afar Depression and the northern Main Ethiopian Rift are characterized by an apparent 40- 60 km depression of both MTZ discontinuities and a normal MTZ thickness. The simplest and most probable interpretation of these observations is that the apparent depressions are solely caused by velocity perturbations in the upper mantle and not by deeper processes causing temperature or hydration anomalies within the MTZ. Thickening of the MTZ on the order of 15 km beneath the southern Arabian Plate, southern Red Sea and western Gulf of Aden, which comprise the southward extension of the Afro-Arabian Dome, could reflect long-term hydration of the MTZ. A 20 km thinning of the MTZ beneath the western Ethiopian Plateau is observed and interpreted as evidence for a possible mantle plume stem originating from the lower mantle.
C. A. Reed et al., "The Mantle Transition Zone beneath the Afar Depression and Adjacent Regions: Implications for Mantle Plumes and Hydration," Geophysical Journal International, vol. 205, no. 3, pp. 1756 - 1766, Oxford University Press, Mar 2016.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggw116
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
Center for High Performance Computing Research
Keywords and Phrases
Africa; Continental Tectonics: Extensional; Hotspots; Large Igneous Provinces
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Article - Journal
© 2016 Reed, C. A. and Gao, Stephen S. and Liu, Kelly H. and Yu, Y., All rights reserved.
01 Mar 2016