Testing plausible upper-mantle compositions using fine-scale models of the 410-km discontinuity

James B. Gaherty, Yanbin Wang, Thomas H. Jordan, Donald J. Weidner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We constructed models of the 410-km discontinuity, in which the shape and width of the velocity and density increase were constrained by mineral physics data on the α-β transition in (Mg,Fe)2SiO4. The transition was represented as cubic functions of depth, and its width was estimated to range between 8-24 km. Reflection coefficients were calculated for these models for competing estimates of the percentage of olivine in the mantle, using synthetic seismograms that include the finite-frequency effects of the distributed transition. Comparing the synthetic reflectivities with the average reflectivity observed in previous analyses of ScS reverberations, we conclude that the mantle composition is close to that of pyrolite (55 vol. % olivine). Furthermore, much of the range of reflectivity can be explained by temperature variation in a pyrolite mantle. An olivine-poor composition (35 vol. % olivine) marginally satisfies the seismic data only if the transition thickness averages less than 10 km.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1641-1644
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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