The presence of localized low-velocity anomalies in the upper mantle beneath the passive Atlantic margin in North America is a puzzling geophysical observation. Whether the anomalies are caused by the remnant heat from past hotspots or ongoing asthenospheric upwelling is still debated. We addressed the formation of the anomalies based on a recent velocity model for eastern North America, which reveals new information on their shapes and anisotropic signatures. The low-velocity anomaly in New England appears as a narrow column above 90 km depth and broadens westward at depths of 120–200 km. Two slow anomalies are imaged under the central Appalachian Mountains between 140 km and 240 km. These low velocities correspond to pronounced positive radial anisotropy (Vsh > Vsv), indicating a dominantly horizontal asthenospheric flow. They also coincide with the tracks of the Great Meteor hotspot (140–115 Ma) and an inferred hidden hotspot (60–50 Ma). The anomalies in the central Appalachians could be due to lithospheric interaction with the second hotspot and subsequent lithospheric instabilities. The complex shape of the New England anomaly is consistent with interaction with both hotspots. The first hotspot could have eroded the base of the lithosphere, forming a channel, and the second hotspot could have further thinned the lithosphere and produced a localized cavity at shallow depths. Consequently, the indented lithosphere base would have filled with channelized asthenospheric flow or produced small-scale convection, helping to sustain the slow anomaly. Low-velocity anomalies at the North America passive margin are likely the consequences of prior hotspot interactions.

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