A seismological study of the mantle beneath Iceland
Iceland has long been thought to be underlain by a thermal upwelling, or plume, rising from deep within the mantle. This study tests this hypothesis, by a) seeking evidence for a plume in the lower mantle in azimuth anomalies at the NORSAR array and b) mapping the three-dimensional structure of the mantle beneath Iceland using teleseismic tomography and data from an Iceland-wide broadband seismometer network. A temporary network of 30 digital broadband, three-component seismographs was deployed 1996-1998 to complement the existing, permanent seismic network on Iceland. This created a dense, well-distributed network. 3159 P-wave and 1338 S-wave arrival times were measured and inverted for velocity structure using the ACH method of teleseismic tomography. The preferred models are well-resolved down to -400 km, and reveal a low-velocity body with anomaly up to -2.9% in V(_p)) and -4.9% in V(_s) beneath central Iceland. This persists throughout the entire model depth range. The amplitudes of the anomalies imply an excess temperature of 200-300 K relative to the surrounding mantle. The morphology of the anomaly changes from cylindrical to tabular at 250-300 km depth, a feature that resolution tests suggest is real. This is consistent with the predictions of some convection models and suggests that the plume is restricted to the upper mantle. Anomalies in v(_p) and v(_s) provide evidence for lateral flow of material beneath the Reykjanes Ridge to the southeast in the depth range 50-200 km. Similar anomalies are present beneath the Kolbeinsey Ridge to the north only beneath 160 km. This shows that flow outwards beneath the Kolbeinsey Ridge is blocked by the Tjörnes Fracture Zone above 160 km. Azimuthal anomalies detected on the NORSAR array for rays travelling beneath Iceland at 1,500 km depth are consistent with a plume beneath Iceland at this lower-mantle depth with a Gaussian radius of 125 km and a strength of 1.5%. The observations do not serve as proof for such an anomaly because the solution is not unique. V(_p)/V(_s) ratios are 1% high throughout most of the plume, and up to 3.2% high at depths of 100-300 km beneath central and east-central Iceland. This suggests that up to a few percent of melt pervades the entire plume.