The earth is layered like an onion, with a thin outer crust, a thick, sticky mantle, a liquid outer core, and a solid inner core. Within the mantle, there are two massive point-like structures, roughly on either side of the planet. The points, officially called Large Low Speed Provinces (LLSVP), are the size of a continent and 100 times higher than Mount Everest. One is located under the African continent, the other under the Pacific Ocean.
Using instruments that measure seismic waves, scientists know that these two spots have complex shapes and structures, but despite their remarkable features, little is known about why the spots exist or what led to their strange shapes.
Arizona State University scientists Qian Yuan and Mingming Li of the College of Earth and Space Exploration set out to learn more about these two points using geodynamic models and analyzes of published seismic studies. Through their research, they were able to determine the maximum height the patches reach and how the size and density of the patches, as well as the surrounding viscosity in the mantle, can control their height. His research was recently published in
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