The mantle transition zone beneath West Antarctica: Seismic evidence for hydration and thermal upwellings

E. L. Emry, A. A. Nyblade, J. Juliã, S. Anandakrishnan, R. C. Aster, D. A. Wiens, A. D. Huerta, T. J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Although prior work suggests that a mantle plume is associated with Cenozoic rifting and volcanism in West Antarctica, the existence of a plume remains conjectural. Here we use P wave receiver functions (PRFs) from the Antarctic POLENET array to estimate mantle transition zone thickness, which is sensitive to temperature perturbations, throughout previously unstudied parts of West Antarctica. We obtain over 8000 high-quality PRFs using an iterative, time domain deconvolution method filtered with a Gaussian width of 0.5 and 1.0, corresponding to frequencies less than â0.24 and â0.48 Hz, respectively. Single-station and common conversion point stacks, migrated to depth using the AK135 velocity model, indicate that mantle transition zone thickness throughout most of West Antarctica does not differ significantly from the global average, except in two locations; one small region exhibits a vertically thinned (210 ± 15 km) transition zone beneath the Ruppert Coast of Marie Byrd Land and another laterally broader region shows slight, vertical thinning (225 ± 25 km) beneath the Bentley Subglacial Trench. We also observe the 520 discontinuity and a prominent negative peak above the mantle transition zone throughout much of West Antarctica. These results suggest that the mantle transition zone may be hotter than average in two places, possibly due to upwelling from the lower mantle, but not broadly across West Antarctica. Furthermore, we propose that the transition zone may be hydrated due to >100 million years of subduction beneath the region during the early Mesozoic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-58
Number of pages19
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'The mantle transition zone beneath West Antarctica: Seismic evidence for hydration and thermal upwellings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this