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Zooming in on the core-mantle boundary

Objective

The core-mantle boundary (CMB) is the interface between the liquid iron core and the silicate solid mantle, and is the most significant internal boundary of the Earth. The core and the mantle interact across the boundary through transfer of heat and material, and various coupling mechanisms. While the nature and variability of these interactions remains uncertain, they strongly affect the convection in the mantle, responsible for plate tectonics and intra-plate volcanism, as well as the much more vigorous convection in the core, responsible for the geodynamo. Constraining the interactions at the CMB is crucial to understanding physical processes in the deep Earth and the thermal, compositional, and dynamical evolution of the Earth.
The CMB interactions are strongly controlled by heterogeneous structures on or near the boundary. On the mantle side, seismological imaging has observed slow velocity layering and patches, but their physical significance remains uncertain, and it is unclear whether they represent global or local features. Turning to the core, suggestions of a stable light-element-enriched layer have been made. The estimated thickness of such a layer varies from 40 to 450 km, and the origin of the inferred light elements is heavily debated.
In ZoomDeep, I propose innovative seismic techniques to image the structure near the CMB with unprecedented resolution. One technique, dubbed 'the Frequency Fan', will be newly developed, while another technique has recently been successfully applied at the Earth's surface and will be adapted to the CMB. ZoomDeep will lead to the first high-resolution maps of the structures near the CMB and will specifically focus on the roots of mantle upwellings beneath volcanic hotspots. The implications of these maps on fundamental questions impacting core and mantle dynamics will be assessed in multi-disciplinary approaches. The results of this work will transform our understanding of the dynamics and evolution of the Earth.

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-STG
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Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 407 784

Beneficiaries (1)

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 407 784
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge

See on map

Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments