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The seismic tomography problem does not have a unique solution, and published tomographic images have been equivocal with regard to the deep structure of subducting slabs. An improved tomographic method, using a more realistic background Earth model and surf ace-reflected as well as direct seismic phases, shows that slabs beneath the Japan and Izu Bonin island arcs are deflected at the boundary between upper and lower mantle, whereas those beneath the northern Kuril and Mariana arcs sink into the lower mantle.
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Tomographic imaging of subducted lithosphere below northwest Pacific island arcs