They discover a fascinating structure under the island of Hawaii

A team of British scientists studied in detail the Ultra-Low Velocity Zone (ULVZ) that is located deep in the Earth’s mantle, below the Hawaiian Islands, reported the RT portal.

Through a statement from the University of Cambridge, it was reported that the phenomenon received its name for its ability to slow down seismic waves. Previously, the researchers had taken images of the rock, using those same waves, recording their echoes to map the structure.

To overcome the limitations of the method, the British scientists used the numerical modeling method. “We are really pushing the limits of modern high-performance computing, for elastodynamic simulations, taking advantage of wave symmetries that were previously unnoticed or unused,” said one of the researchers, Kuangdai Leng.

As a result, the researchers found that the ULVZ began at a depth of 2,791 kilometers and is about 20 kilometers thick, ending about 100 kilometers from the core-mantle boundary.

In the horizontal plane, it extends to between 600 and 900 kilometers. In addition, the structure was shown to reduce the speed of seismic waves by 40 percent. That observation corroborates the assumption that it contains much more iron and is denser than neighboring rocks.

Meanwhile, researcher Zhi Li said: “Of all the deep interior features of the Earth, (the ultra-low speed zones), they are the most fascinating and complex. Now we have the first hard evidence showing its internal structure: it’s a real milestone in deep-earth seismology.”

Ancient rocks or core leak?

For her part, Sanne Cottaar, who headed the team, believes that the differences between the ULVZ and the surrounding rocks would suppose the special origin of the phenomenon.

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RT Photo

The scientist explained: “It is possible that this iron-rich material is a remnant of ancient rocks from early Earth history, or even that the iron is escaping from the core by an unknown means.”

The expert indicated that the lava ejected by the Hawaiian volcanoes is consistent with the hypothesis.

‘Basalts from Hawaii’s eruptions have anomalous isotopic signatures, which could point to an early Earth origin or a leak from the core, meaning that some of this dense material, accumulating at the base, must be carried to the surface. surface,” Cottaar said.


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