Seismologists at University of Berkley have been conducting CT Scans of the Earth to develop a high-resolution, 3-dimensional model of deep mantle plumes of hot rock. The fascinating part of this study is that the seismologists have linked surface hotspots (like the ones that make up Iceland and Hawaii) to the deep mantle hot rock plumes.
This study utilized a supercomputer at the US Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to analyze computed tomography (CT) scans. Scientists used seismic waves from 273 strong earthquakes over the last 20 years to help map these deep mantle plumes.
The new 3-D map connects most hotspots to deep mantle plumes. It also shows the mantle plumes being between 600-1,000 km wide at a depth of 1,000 km below the Earth's surface. These features are 5x wider than previously hypothesized.
The deep mantle plumes are anchored to two huge plumes located at the outer-core/mantle boundary. These two huge plumes are on opposite sides of the Earth, with each plume being about 5,000 km across. One plume is anchored under Africa and the other under the Pacific Ocean.