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It is widely assumed that the boundary layer above the core is the source of intraplate volcanoes such as Hawaii, Samoa, and Yellowstone, and that the sub-plate boundary layer at the top of the mantle is thin and entirely subsolidus. In fact, this upper layer is thicker and has higher expansivity, buoyancy, and insulating power than the lower one, and may have higher potential temperatures. The observed seismic structure of the low-velocity zone (LVZ) including attenuation, anisotropy, sharp boundaries, and a reduction of both compressional and shear moduli can be taken as strong evidence for the ubiquitous presence of melt in the upper mantle. If the LVZ contains as little as 1%–2% melt, then it is the most plausible and accessible source for midplate magmas; deeply rooted active upwellings are unnecessary. The upper boundary layer is also the most plausible source of ancient isotopic signatures of these magmas and their inclusions.

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