Thermal Nature of Mantle Upwellings Below the Ibero-Western Maghreb Region Inferred From Teleseismic Tomography

Chiara Civiero*, Susana Custódio, Nicholas Rawlinson, Vincent Strak, Graça Silveira, Pierre Arroucau, Carlos Corela

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Independent models of P wave and S wave velocity anomalies in the mantle derived from seismic tomography help to distinguish thermal signatures from those of partial melt, volatiles, and compositional variations. Here we use seismic data from SW Europe and NW Africa, spanning the region between the Pyrenees and the Canaries, in order to obtain a new S-SKS relative arrival-time tomographic model of the upper mantle below Iberia, Western Morocco, and the Canaries. Similar to previous P wave tomographic results, the S wave model provides evidence for (1) subvertical upper-mantle low-velocity structures below the Canaries, Atlas Ranges, and Gibraltar Arc, which are interpreted as mantle upwellings fed by a common lower-mantle source below the Canaries; and (2) two low-velocity anomalies below the eastern Rif and Betics that we interpret as the result of the interaction between quasi-toroidal mantle flow induced by the Gibraltar slab and the mantle upwelling behind it. The analysis of teleseismic P wave and S wave arrival-time residuals and the conversion of the low-velocity anomalies to temperature variations suggest that the upwellings in the upper mantle below the Canaries, Atlas Ranges, and Gibraltar Arc system may be solely thermal in nature, with temperature excesses in the range ~100–350 °C. Our results also indicate that local partial melting can be present at lithospheric depths, especially below the Atlas Ranges. The locations of thermal mantle upwellings are in good agreement with those of thinned lithosphere, moderate to high heat-flow measurements, and recent magmatic activity at the surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1781-1801
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Ibero-western Maghreb region
  • Lower-upper mantle connection
  • Quasi-toroidal mantle flow
  • Relative arrival-time residuals
  • S-wave tomography
  • Thermal mantle upwellings


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