EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Global observations of 3D mantle attenuation using normal modes 

Sujania Talavera-Soza and Arwen Deuss
Sujania Talavera-Soza and Arwen Deuss
  • Utrecht University, Department of Earth Sciences, the Netherlands (

Seismic tomographic models based solely on wave velocities are unable to distinguish between a temperature or compositional origin for Earth’s 3D structure variations, such as the Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) beneath the lower mantle of Africa and the Pacific. Seismic attenuation or damping is able able to provide additional information that may help to unravel the origin of the LLSVPs, which is fundamental to understand mantle convection evolution. For example, a thermal origin for the LLSVPs will point to them being short-lived anomalies, whereas a compositional origin will point to them being long-lived, forming mantle 'anchors' and influencing the pattern of mantle convection for a large part of Earth’s history. Seismic attenuation is able to make that distinction, because it is directly sensitive to temperature variations. So far, global 3D attenuation models have only been available for the upper mantle, with only two regional body waves studies exploring the lower mantle (Lawrence and Wysession, 2006; Hwang and Ritsema, 2011).
Here, we use normal mode data to measure elastic splitting functions (dependent on velocity and density) and anelastic splitting functions (dependent on attenuation). The advantage of normal modes is that they allow us to include focussing and scattering due to the velocity structure without the need for approximations, because we measure the elastic splitting function jointly with the anelastic splitting function. In our measurements for upper mantle sensi- tive modes, we find anti-correlation between the elastic and anelastic splitting functions, suggesting a thermal origin for low velocity spreading ridges, and agreeing with previous studies. On the other hand, for lower mantle sensitive modes, we find correlation, suggesting the averagely attenuating LLSVPs are surrounded by strongly attenuating regions potentially due to the presence of post-perovskite.

How to cite: Talavera-Soza, S. and Deuss, A.: Global observations of 3D mantle attenuation using normal modes , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2829,, 2021.

Display materials

Display file

Comments on the display material

to access the discussion