Seismic image of the mantle transition zone beneath northeastern china: evidence for stagnant pacific subducting slab, lithospheric delamination, and mantle upwelling

Zheng Tang, Jordi Julià, Walter D Mooney, Paul Martin Mai, Huazhi Yu, Yanqiang Wu

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1 Scopus citations


We provide a comprehensive image of the mantle transition zone (MTZ) beneath northeastern China by performing Variable Bin Radius Stacking of receiver functions. A massive seismic dataset consisting of over 133 000 receiver functions recorded by 1 208 broadband stations is processed. Our results reveal fine-scale topography on the 410- and 660-km discontinuities defining the upper and lower bounds of the MTZ, lateral variations in the MTZ thickness, and slab interfaces within the MTZ. In particular, unambiguous images of the slab interfaces provide direct evidence for the presence of the stagnant Pacific subducting slab below the eastern portion of the study area. A widespread deepening of the 410-km discontinuity is consistent with a hot and wet low-velocity upper mantle resulting from dehydration of the stagnant slab. Prominent depressions are evident in the depth to the 660-km discontinuity, with a thickened MTZ associated with the cold stagnating slab. Localized uplifts of the 660-km discontinuity are possibly caused by partial melt under the slab. These features attest to the influence of the Pacific plate on the MTZ. Additionally, a pronounced upwarp on the 660-km interface with a thin MTZ agrees with a previously hypothesized mantle upwelling through a slab window, possibly triggered by the sinking of the stagnant slab. Moreover, the western part of the study region is characterized by alternating ups and downs of the 410-km interface, while the topography of the 660-km discontinuity is relatively flat. We propose the western region is dominated by foundering of delaminated lithospheric blocks that induced upward mantle return flows upon entrance into the MTZ.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGeophysical Journal International
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-09-06
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1339-01-01
Acknowledgements: Parts of the waveform data for this study were provided by Data Management Center of China National Seismic Network at Institute of Geophysics (, China Earthquake Networks Center and BJ, BU, HA, HE, HL, JL, LN, NM, SD, SN, SX, and TJ Seismic Networks, China Earthquake Administration, while the others were downloaded from Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). All the receiver function data used in this work and the imaging results are available from the corresponding author (Z.T., We sincerely thank Peter Shearer and Stephen Gao for their comments that greatly improved the manuscript. The research presented in the paper is supported by the Director’s Fund of the First Monitoring and Application Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation (grant FMC202308), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 41974011, 42174125), and National Key R&D Program of China (MOST grant 2018YFC1503606). J.J. thanks the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for his continued research fellowship (CNPq 308644/2019-0). W.D.M. acknowledges support from the Earthquake Hazards Program of United States Geological Survey. P.M.M. is supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (grant BAS/1/1339-01-01).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics


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