Underneath Earth’s Volcanos

A 3-D glimpse of the incredible network below famous chains like Hawaii and Iceland.

Seismologists at Berkeley have released a three-dimensional scan of Earth’s interior, detailing for the first time connections between plumes of hot rock rising through the mantle.

Think of the project like a CT scan of paths of seismic waves generated by 273 strong earthquakes over the past 20 years. Publishing its findings in Nature, the team used a computer simulation to show how plumes of hot rock from the Earth’s mantle fan out as they rise toward the surface. They create hotspots that generate volcanic island chains like Hawaii, Samoa, and Iceland, and the new research shows their vast breadth 1,000 kilometers below the surface.

As seen in the video above, the bases of these plumes are anchored in two huge blobs of hot rock rising from 1,800 miles below the Earth’s surface, one under Africa and the other under the Pacific Ocean.