Mantle Transition Zone Thickness Beneath the Middle East: Evidence for Segmented Tethyan Slabs, Delaminated Lithosphere, and Lower Mantle Upwelling

by Ayoub Kabaiani, Eric Sandvol, Ali Moradi, Georg Rümpker, Zhen Tang, P. Martin Mai
Year: 2018

Extra Information

Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. June 2018, Vol. 123, Issue 6, Pages 4886-4905.


We use a very large seismic data set to provide a comprehensive image of the mantle transition zone (MTZ) beneath the Middle East. We utilized the technique of Common Conversion Point stacking of P wave receiver functions to investigate the topography on the 410‐ and 660‐km discontinuities defining the upper and lower boundaries of the MTZ. Our results show significant topography on the 410‐ and 660‐km discontinuities and corresponding variations in the MTZ thickness. The MTZ topography is broadly consistent with the results of seismic tomography studies, implying the presence of both cold thermal anomalies imparted by detached Tethyan slabs and lithospheric segments and hot thermal anomalies induced by upwelling of lower mantle material. The MTZ topography in the northern Middle East is dominated by the presence of patches of cold material that are intermittently separated by regions of hot to normal MTZ. Our results suggest that instead of a continuous slab, the Tethyan slab in the Middle East is strongly segmented along the strike of the subduction boundary. Furthermore, we find evidence for a significant gap in subduction extending from the eastern edge of the Cyprean arc to NW Iran. The southern Middle East is dominated by the processes related to the mantle upwelling beneath the Afar depression. Our results imply that buoyant lower mantle material enters the MTZ beneath the Afar depression and then spreads laterally to the northeast beneath the western Arabia, flowing within the MTZ and in the upper mantle.