Two giant points in the Earth’s mantle may explain the strange geology of Africa

3D view of the point in the Earth’s mantle below Africa, shown in red, yellow, and orange. Cyan represents the main mantle boundary, blue indicates the surface and transparent gray indicates the continents. (Photo credit: Mingming Li / ASU)

Deep in the Earth’s mantle, there two giant blobs. One sits under Africa, and the other is almost opposite to the first, under the Pacific Ocean. But these two points are not equally congruent.

New research finds that the point under Africa extends much closer to the surface – and more unstable – than the point under the Pacific Ocean. This difference could ultimately help explain why the crust beneath Africa has risen higher and why the continent has experienced many massive supervolcanic eruptions over hundreds of millions of years.

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