Upper mantle seismic velocity variations beneath northern Tanzania coupled with the structure of the 410 and 660 km discontinuities reveal a 200–400-km-wide thermal anomaly extending into but not necessarily through the transition zone beneath the eastern branch of the East African rift system. This finding is not easily explained by small-scale mantle convection induced by passive stretching of the lithosphere or by a broad thermal upwelling extending from the lower mantle into the upper mantle, but it can be attributed to a mantle plume, provided that a plume head is present under the lithospheric keel of the Tanzania craton. A plume interpretation for the deep thermal anomaly is supported by evidence for mantle having the geochemical characteristics of a plume at >150 km depth beneath northern Tanzania.

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