Seismologists from University of California, Berkeley, have come up with an interesting project. They’ve analyzed paths of seismic waves and based on that created the first-ever detailed 3D map of the Earth’s interior.
The model shows mantle plumes (where the hot rock flows) starting at the bottom of the core-to-mantle boundary and climbing to the top, where they connect to volcanic hotspots in the Earth’s crust. The model precisely connected volcanic island chains like Hawaii, Samoa and Iceland. Of course it isn’t perfect. It didn’t link plumes to some volcanoes, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park but still it is the most precise scan of the Earth’s interior ever made.
Previous attempts to map mantle plumes have detected pockets of hot rock rising in areas where plumes have been predicted, but it was unclear whether they were connected to volcanic hotspots at the surface or at the roots of the plumes, deep below the surface of the planet.
Creating this kind of high-resolution CT of Earth, requires significant computing resources. Scientists used very accurate numerical simulations of how seismic waves travel through the mantle, and compared their predictions to the ground motion actually measured by detectors around the globe. The analysis required 3 million CPU hours on supercomputers, and tool couple of weeks of computing.
It is interesting that we are thinking about exploring Mars but we still now so little about what’s beneath us.
source: Berkeley News