A team of researchers has discovered the existence of two massive speck-like structures in the Earth’s mantle, located almost on opposite sides of our planet. Known as Large Low Shear Rate Provinces (LLSVP), these patches are the size of a continent and 100 times higher than Everest.
One of these structures is under the African continent, while the other is under the Pacific Ocean. Using devices that measure seismic waves, scientists now know that the spots have complex shapes. However, it is still unknown why they exist and what their strange shapes are due to.
The results of the research were recently published in Nature Geoscience and indicate that the spot discovered under Africa is about 1,000 kilometers higher than the one found under the Pacific.
According to the researchers from Arizona State University, this large difference could be due to the fact that the spot under the African continent is less dense and, therefore, less stable. “The LLVP from Africa may have been increasing in recent geologic time. This may explain the elevated surface topography and intense volcanism in East Africa.
Scientists also believe that these findings may change the way we commonly think about Earth’s deep mantle processes and how this may affect our planet’s surface.
“This work has far-reaching implications for scientists trying to understand the current state and evolution of deep mantle structure and the nature of mantle convection,” the researchers add.