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Two giant spots in Earth’s mantle could explain Africa’s strange geology

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

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

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

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