We evaluate the thermo-chemical state of the lower mantle by analysing the differences in the pattern of heterogeneity between shear and compressional velocity variations and the S–to–P heterogeneity ratio (RS/P=δlnVS/δlnVP) as mapped in our model SPani and in alternative joint models. Robust structural differences between VP and VS evidence the presence of compositional heterogeneity within the two Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs). We find also an increasing decorrelation with depth that can be associated with compositional layering of the LLSVPs. In addition, our model shows heterogeneity in the transition zone and mid mantle by complex morphology of subducting slabs and further differences between VP and VS that point to an unexpected heterogeneous lower mantle. Precise estimates of compositional heterogeneities are not yet affordable because of the difficulty to provide quantitative measure of RS/P, making it difficult to use this ratio to evaluate chemical heterogeneity. For instance, RS/P global median value (<RS/P>) drops from ~2.8 to ~1.9, at 2500 km depth when the VP component of SPani is replaced by a VP model resulting from a differently regularized inversion and obtaining an equally good data fit. An increase of 20% of the SPani VP anomalies also drastically reduces <RS/P> without significantly degrading the data fit. Noise in model parameters also leads to overestimate RS/P in the two LLSVPs as we show with synthetic tests. Additional mineral physics uncertainties for compositional effects on RS/P and for the conversion of δlnVS and δlnVP into density further complicates a precise chemical interpretation.
Tesoniero, A., Cammarano, F., Boschi, L. (2016). S−to−P heterogeneity ratio in the lower mantle and thermo-chemical implications. GEOCHEMISTRY, GEOPHYSICS, GEOSYSTEMS, 17(7), 2522-2538 [10.1002/2016GC006293].