Survival of LLSVPs for billions of years in a vigorously convecting mantle: Replenishment and destruction of chemical anomaly

Elvira Mulyukova*, Bernhard Steinberger, Marcin Dabrowski, Stephan V. Sobolev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We study segregation of the subducted oceanic crust (OC) at the core-mantle boundary and its ability to accumulate and form large thermochemical piles (such as the seismically observed Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs)). Our high-resolution numerical simulations of thermochemical mantle convection suggest that the longevity of LLSVPs for up to three billion years, and possibly longer, can be ensured by a balance in the rate of segregation of high-density OC material to the core-mantle boundary (CMB) and the rate of its entrainment away from the CMB by mantle upwellings. For a range of parameters tested in this study, a large-scale compositional anomaly forms at the CMB, similar in shape and size to the LLSVPs. Neutrally buoyant thermochemical piles formed by mechanical stirring - where thermally induced negative density anomaly is balanced by the presence of a fraction of dense anomalous material - best resemble the geometry of LLSVPs. Such neutrally buoyant piles tend to emerge and survive for at least 3 Gyr in simulations with quite different parameters. We conclude that for a plausible range of values of density anomaly of OC material in the lower mantle - it is likely that it segregates to the CMB, gets mechanically mixed with the ambient material, and forms neutrally buoyant large-scale compositional anomalies similar in shape to the LLSVPs

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3824-3847
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • LLSVPs
  • mantle convection
  • segregating oceanic crust
  • thermochemical modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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