Abstract

We employ a new thermodynamic method for self-consistent computation of compositional and thermal effects on phase transition depths, density, and seismic velocities. Using these profiles, we compare theoretical and observed differential traveltimes between P410s and P (T410) and between P600s and P410s (T660–410) that are affected only by seismic structure in the upper mantle. The anticorrelation between T410 and T660–410 suggests that variations in T410 and T660–410 of ~8 s are due to lateral temperature variations in the upper mantle transition zone of ~400 K. If the mantle is a mechanical mixture of basaltic and harzburgitic components, our traveltime data suggest that the mantle has an average temperature of 1600 ± 50 K, in agreement with temperature estimates from magma compositions of mid-ocean ridge basalts. We infer a 100 K hotter mantle if we assume the mantle to have a homogeneous pyrolitic composition. The transition-zone temperature beneath hotspots and within subduction zones is relatively high and low, respectively. However, the largest variability in T410 and T660–410 is recorded by global stations far from subduction zones and hotspots. This indicates that the 400 K variation in upper mantle temperature is complicated by tilted upwellings, slab flattening and accumulation, ancient subduction, and processes unrelated to present-day subduction and plume ascent.

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