Seismic imaging of a hot upwelling beneath the British Isles

Arrowsmith, Stephen J and Kendall, Michael and White, Nicky and VanDecar, John C and Booth, David C
Geology, 33(5): 345-348, 2005

The Iceland plume has had an important influence on vertical motions in the North Atlantic. The convecting mantle in this region contains a large-scale low-velocity seismic anomaly, which correlates with a long-wavelength gravity high and bathymetric feature. This suggests that an arm of plume material has extended, or is extending, from Iceland, in a direction perpendicular to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Here we present the results of a detailed teleseismic traveltime study that reveals the high-resolution morphology of this low-velocity anomaly beneath the British Isles. Our images provide insights into the nature of plume-lithosphere interactions. The low-velocity anomaly imaged in this study correlates geographically with a region of high gravity anomalies and high topography that was associated with Paleogene magmatism and phases of epeirogenic uplift during the Cenozoic Era. There is evidence that the distribution of British earthquakes is also related to the low-velocity anomaly. The low-velocity anomaly is interpreted to represent hot material from the original Iceland plume head that became trapped beneath thinned regions of lithosphere ca. 60 Ma.