Lithosphere
Last modified December, 2013; irina@ign.ku.dk
Seismic tomography and mantle T
Lithosphere
THE CONTINENTAL LITHOSPHERE
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The Lithosphere book by Artemieva. Cambridge
Artemieva I.M., 2011.
The lithosphere:
An interdisciplinary
approach
.

Cambridge University Press,
Monograph,
794 pp., ISBN 9780521843966.

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Global correlations of seismic elastic and anelastic
tomography and mantle temperatures

Artemieva I.M., Billien M.,
Lévêque J.-J., and Mooney W.
Geophys. J. Intern., 2004, v.157, 607-628.

Seismic velocity and attenuation anomalies in the mantle are commonly interpreted in terms of temperature variations on the
compare global maps of the thermal structure of the continental upper mantle with global 1/Qs and Vs  maps as determined
from Rayleigh waves at periods between 40 and 150 sec. We limit the comparison to three continental mantle depths (50,
100, and 150 km), where model resolution is relatively high.

The available data set does not indicate that, at a global scale, anomalies in the upper mantle are controlled solely
by temperature variations. Continental maps have correlation coefficients of <0.56 between Vs and T and of <0.47
between Qs and T at any depth.
Such low correlation coefficients can partially be attributed to modeling artifacts;
however, they also suggest that not all of Vs and Qs anomalies in the continental upper mantle can be explained by T
variations.

Global maps show that, by the sign of the anomaly, Vs and Qs usually inversely correlate with lithospheric temperatures:
most cratonic regions show high Vs and Qs and low T, while most of active regions have seismic and thermal anomalies of
the opposite sign. The strongest inverse correlation is found at a depth of 100 km, where the attenuation model is best
resolved. Significantly, at this depth, the contours of near-zero Qs anomalies approximately correspond to the 1000o C
isotherm, in agreement with laboratory measurements that show a pronounced increase in seismic attenuation in upper
mantle rocks at 1000o-1100o C. East-west profiles of Vs, Qs, and T where continental data coverage is best (50o N
latitude for North America and 60o N latitude for Eurasia) further demonstrate that temperature plays a dominant, but
non-unique, role in determining the value of lithospheric Vs and Qs.

At 100 km depth, where the resolution of seismic models is the highest, we compare observed seismic Vs and Qs with
theoretical Vs(T) and Qs(T) values that are calculated solely from temperature anomalies and constrained by experimental
data on temperature dependences of velocity and attenuation. This comparison shows that temperature variations alone are
sufficient to explain seismic Vs and Qs in ca. 50% of continental regions. We hypothesize that compositional anomalies due
to Fe-depletion can explain the misfit between seismic and theoretical Vs  in cratonic lithosphere. In regions of active
tectonics, temperature effects alone cannot explain seismic Vs and Qs in the lithosphere. It is likely that partial melts and/or
fluids may affect seismic parameters in these regions.

This study demonstrates that lithospheric temperature plays the dominant role in controlling Vs and Qs anomalies, but other
physical parameters, such as compositional variations, fluids, partial melting, and scattering may also play a significant role
in determining Vs and Qs variations in the continental mantle.
Seismic tomography and mantle temperature

Correlations between shear-wave velocity Vs (as
variation in % relative to PREM), inverse attenuation
Qs (as variation in % relative to PREM), and
temperature T (in deg C) for continental lithosphere at
of thermal modeling.

Red circles – all data for the continents; blue circles –
data for Archean – early Proterozoic cratons only.

The calculated correlation coefficients are less than
0.42 for any pair of the parameters. The correlation is
especially bad for the Archean-early Proterozoic
cratons, suggesting that a significant part of lateral Vs
and Qs variations in cratonic lithosphere has a non-
thermal origin.
This plot illustrates how  δQs and δVs anomalies can be interpreted in terms of temperature variations in the mantle.
Seismic tomography and mantle temperature
Relative anomalies of Qs (a) and Vs (b) as a function of T anomalies for
different upper mantle temperatures.

(a) Solid lines - δQs anomalies based on experimental data of Jackson et
al (1992) for frequency τ=1 sec. For a comparison, the results for T=600o
C are also presented for τ=40 sec (dashed line). Dashed red line - δQs
calculated for high homologous mantle T (i.e. T/Tm, where Tm is solidus
temperature) based on experimental data of Sato & Sacks (1989).

(b) Solid lines - δVs anomalies with account for anelasticity, for τ=40 sec.
For a comparison, dashed line - δVs based on a linear relationship
dVs/dT=0.35 m/sec/K (Sumino & Anderson 1982)
seismic attenuation vs temperature
Vs versus temperature
Which part of seismic Qs and Vs anomalies cannot be predicted from mantle temperatures alone ?
Map of the difference δQs between (1) Qs at 100 km depth as calculated from
surface waves (Billien et al. 2000) and (2) the value of Qs(T) estimated from
experimental data of Jackson et al (1992) for τ=40 sec and the lithospheric
temperatures (Artemieva & Mooney, 2001)
.
Map of the difference δVs between (1) Vs at 100 km depth as calculated from
lithospheric temperatures (Artemieva & Mooney, 2001) with account for anelasticity,
for τ=40 sec.

Using laboratory data on the temperature dependence of Vs and Qs in olivine-rich rocks, we calculate theoretical Qs(T) and Vs(T) at z=100 km  
from known temperatures. A comparison of observed and theoretical values provides an estimate of a part of seismic anomalies that cannot be
predicted from temperature variations alone. In ca. 50% of the continents seismic attenuation and velocity anomalies can be explained by
thermal effects alone (white areas). However, these regions do not show any systematic correlation either with the tectonic setting, nor with
geological age.
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Irina M. Artemieva
Geology Section, IGN
University of Copenhagen
Øster Voldgade 10
Copenhagen DK-1350
Denmark
Email:
irina@ign.ku.dk
www.ign.ku.dk
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