Multiple Phase Changes in the Mantle Transition Zone Beneath Northeast Asia: Constraints From Teleseismic Reflected and Converted Body Waves

Benoit Tauzin, Seongryong Kim, Juan Carlos Afonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


We reassess the mantle transition zone structure below the northeast Asia margin in the context of subduction of the Pacific plate below the Eurasian continent. We use two independent approaches of teleseismic imaging, namely, compressional-to-shear converted waves (receiver functions) and shear wave underside reflections (SS precursors), and compare them within their statistical uncertainties. We find localized complexity in the interfaces marking solid phase changes in mantle minerals, in terms of both apparent topography and reflectivity. The 660-km discontinuity is doubled, with ∼80-km maximum vertical distance between the interfaces, over an 890 × 350 km2 region between 36–44°N and 130–133°E at the tip of the subducted Pacific plate. A similar complexity exists on the 410-km discontinuity, coinciding with the presence of a deep cluster of seismicity below the Japan Sea. Both methods suggest the presence of low-velocity zones atop the 410, within the mantle transition zone, and below the 660. This complex seismic signature is related to the Pacific plate and interpreted in light of the subduction thermal regime and phase equilibria for a pyrolitic mantle composition. Phase changes manifest themselves as broad zones of velocity gradients with localized doubled or multiple first-order discontinuities, associated with transitions in the olivine, pyroxene, and garnet systems. An average pyrolitic composition and local temperatures of 1000–1300 K can explain the observed velocity gradients and multiple discontinuities. We show that the dissolution of stishovite, a high-pressure polymorph of SiO2, into the higher-pressure perovskite mineral, is a possible explanation for the low-velocity zones at the top of the lower mantle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6636-6657
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2018. The Authors.


  • East Asia
  • SS precursors
  • mantle transition zone
  • mineralogy
  • receiver functions
  • seismology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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