Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 217–232 | Cite as

Effect of lateral viscosity variations in the core-mantle boundary region on predictions of the long-wavelength geoid

  • O. Čadek
  • L. Fleitout


Seismic studies of the lowermost mantle suggest that the core-mantle boundary (CMB) region is strongly laterally heterogeneous over both local and global scales. These heterogeneities are likely to be associated with significant lateral viscosity variations that may influence the shape of the long-wavelength non-hydrostatic geoid. In the present paper we investigate the effect of these lateral viscosity variations on the solution of the inverse problem known as the inferences of viscosity from the geoid. We find that the presence of lateral viscosity variations in the CMB region can significantly improve the percentage fit of the predicted data with observations (from 42 to 70% in case of free-air gravity) while the basic characterisics of the mantle viscosity model, namely the viscosity increase with depth and the rate of layering, remain more or less the same as in the case of the best-fitting radially symmetric viscosity models. Assuming that viscosity is laterally dependent in the CMB region, and radially dependent elsewhere, we determine the largescale features of the viscosity structure in the lowermost mantle. The viscosity pattern found for the CMB region shows a high density of hotspots above the regions of higher-than-average viscosity. This result suggests an important role for petrological heterogeneities in the lowermost mantle, potentially associated with a post-perovskite phase transition. Another potential interpretation is that the lateral viscosity variations derived for the CMB region correspond in reality to lateral variations in the mechanical conditions at the CMB boundary or to large-scale undulations of a chemically distinct layer at the lowermost mantle.

Key words

core-mantle boundary D″ lateral viscosity variations geoid post-perovskite phase transition 


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Copyright information

© StudiaGeo s.r.o. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Čadek
    • 1
  • L. Fleitout
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Mathematics and PhysicsCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Laboratoire de géologie, Ecole normale supérieureParisFrance

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