Earth is layered like an onion, with a thin outer crust, a thick viscous mantle, a fluid outer core, and a solid inner core. Within the mantle, there are two massive blob-like structures, roughly on opposite sides of the planet. The blobs, more formally referred to as Large Low-Shear-Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs), are each the size of a continent and 100 times taller than Mt. Everest. One is under the African continent, while the other is under the Pacific Ocean.
Using instruments that measure seismic waves, scientists know that these two blobs have complicated shapes and structures, but despite their prominent features, little is known about why the blobs exist or what led to their odd shapes.
Arizona State University scientists Qian Yuan and Mingming Li of the School of Earth and Space Exploration set out to learn more about these two blobs using geodynamic modeling and analyses of published seismic studies. Through their research, they were able to determine the maximum heights that the blobs reach and how the volume and density of the blobs, as well as the surrounding viscosity in the mantle, might control their height. Their research was recently published in Two Massive Blobs in Earth’s Mantle Baffle Scientists With Their Surprising