Mantle Convection (mantle + convection)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Contribution of gravitational potential energy differences to the global stress field

Attreyee Ghosh
SUMMARY Modelling the lithospheric stress field has proved to be an efficient means of determining the role of lithospheric versus sublithospheric buoyancies and also of constraining the driving forces behind plate tectonics. Both these sources of buoyancies are important in generating the lithospheric stress field. However, these sources and the contribution that they make are dependent on a number of variables, such as the role of lateral strength variation in the lithosphere, the reference level for computing the gravitational potential energy per unit area (GPE) of the lithosphere, and even the definition of deviatoric stress. For the mantle contribution, much depends on the mantle convection model, including the role of lateral and radial viscosity variations, the spatial distribution of density buoyancies, and the resolution of the convection model. GPE differences are influenced by both lithosphere density buoyancies and by radial basal tractions that produce dynamic topography. The global lithospheric stress field can thus be divided into (1) stresses associated with GPE differences (including the contribution from radial basal tractions) and (2) stresses associated with the contribution of horizontal basal tractions. In this paper, we investigate only the contribution of GPE differences, both with and without the inferred contribution of radial basal tractions. We use the Crust 2.0 model to compute GPE values and show that these GPE differences are not sufficient alone to match all the directions and relative magnitudes of principal strain rate axes, as inferred from the comparison of our depth integrated deviatoric stress tensor field with the velocity gradient tensor field within the Earth's plate boundary zones. We argue that GPE differences calibrate the absolute magnitudes of depth integrated deviatoric stresses within the lithosphere; shortcomings of this contribution in matching the stress indicators within the plate boundary zones can be corrected by considering the contribution from horizontal tractions associated with density buoyancy driven mantle convection. Deviatoric stress magnitudes arising from GPE differences are in the range of 1,4 TN m,1, a part of which is contributed by dynamic topography. The EGM96 geoid data set is also used as a rough proxy for GPE values in the lithosphere. However, GPE differences from the geoid fail to yield depth integrated deviatoric stresses that can provide a good match to the deformation indicators. GPE values inferred from the geoid have significant shortcomings when used on a global scale due to the role of dynamically support of topography. Another important factor in estimating the depth integrated deviatoric stresses is the use of the correct level of reference in calculating GPE. We also elucidate the importance of understanding the reference pressure for calculating deviatoric stress and show that overestimates of deviatoric stress may result from either simplified 2-D approximations of the thin sheet equations or the assumption that the mean stress is equal to the vertical stress. [source]

Seismic evidence for a sharp lithospheric base persisting to the lowermost mantle beneath the Caribbean

Tadashi Kito
SUMMARY Broad-band data from South American earthquakes recorded by Californian seismic networks are analysed using a newly developed seismic wave migration method,the slowness backazimuth weighted migration (SBWM). Using the SBWM, out-of-plane seismic P -wave reflections have been observed. The reflection locations extend throughout the Earth's lower mantle, down to the core,mantle boundary (CMB) and coincide with the edges of tomographically mapped high seismic velocities. Modelling using synthetic seismograms suggests that a narrow (10,15 km) low- or high-velocity lamella with about 2 per cent velocity contrast can reproduce the observed reflected waveforms, but other explanations may exist. Considering the reflection locations and synthetic modelling, the observed out-of-plane energy is well explained by underside reflections off a sharp reflector at the base of the subducted lithosphere. We also detect weaker reflections corresponding to the tomographically mapped top of the slab, which may arise from the boundary between the Nazca plate and the overlying former basaltic oceanic crust. The joint interpretation of the waveform modelling and geodynamic considerations indicate mass flux of the former oceanic lithosphere and basaltic crust across the 660 km discontinuity, linking processes and structure at the top and bottom of the Earth's mantle, supporting the idea of whole mantle convection. [source]

Radial resolving power of far-field differential sea-level highstands in the inference of mantle viscosity

Roblyn A. Kendall
SUMMARY For two decades leading to the late 1980s, the prevailing view from studies of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) data was that the viscosity of the Earth's mantle increased moderately, if at all, from the base of the lithosphere to the core,mantle boundary. This view was first questioned by Nakada & Lambeck, who argued that differential sea-level (DSL) highstands between pairs of sites in the Australian region preferred an increase of approximately two orders of magnitude from the mean viscosity of the upper to the lower mantle, in accord with independent inferences from observables related to mantle convection. We use non-linear Bayesian inference to provide the first formal resolving power analysis of the Australian DSL data set. We identify three radial regions, two within the upper mantle (110,270 km and 320,570 km depth) and one in the lower mantle (1225,2265 km depth), over which the average of viscosity is well constrained by the data. We conclude that: (1) the DSL data provide a resolution in the inference of upper mantle viscosity that is better than implied by forward analyses based on isoviscous regions above and below the 670 km depth discontinuity and (2) the data do not strongly constrain viscosity at either the base or top of the lower mantle. Finally, our inversions also quantify the significant bias that may be introduced in inversions of the DSL highstands that do not simultaneously estimate the thickness of the elastic lithosphere. [source]

Convection in the Earth's core driven by lateral variations in the core,mantle boundary heat flux

Steven John Gibbons
Summary Moving core fluid maintains an isothermal core,mantle boundary (CMB), so lateral variations in the CMB heat flow result from mantle convection. Such variations will drive thermal winds, even if the top of the core is stably stratified. These flows may contribute to the magnetic secular variation and are investigated here using a simple, non-magnetic numerical model of the core. The results depend on the equatorial symmetry of the boundary heat flux variation. Large-scale equatorially symmetric (ES) heat flux variations at the outer surface of a rapidly rotating spherical shell drive deeply penetrating flows that are strongly suppressed in stratified fluid. Smaller-scale ES heat flux variations drive flows less dominated by rotation and so less inhibited by stratification. Equatorially anti-symmetric flux variations drive flows an order of magnitude less energetic than those driven by ES patterns but, due to the nature of the Coriolis force, are less suppressed by stratification. The response of the rotating core fluid to a general CMB heat flow pattern will then depend strongly on the subadiabatic temperature profile. Imposing a lateral heat flux variation linearly related to a model of seismic tomography in the lowermost mantle drives flow in a density stratified fluid that reproduces some features found in flows inverted from geomagnetic data. [source]

Experimental Investigation of Eclogite Rheology and Its Fabrics at High Temperature and Pressure

Abstract Eclogite plays an important role in mantle convection and geodynamics in subduction zones. An improved understanding of processes in the deeper levels of subduction zones and collision belts requires information on eclogite rheology. However, the deformation processes and associated fabrics in eclogite are not well understood. Incompatible views of deformation mechanism have been proposed for both garnet and omphacite. We present here deformation behaviour of eclogite at temperatures of 1027,1427 C, confining pressures of 2.5,3.5 GPa, and strain rates of 1 10,5 s,1 to 5 10,4 s,1. We obtained a power-law creep for the high temperature and pressure deformation of a ,dry' eclogite (50 vol.% garnet, 40% omphacite and 10% quartz) with A = 103.3 1.0, n = 3.5 0.4, ,E =403 30 KJ mol,1 and ,V = 27.2 cm3 mol,1. The two principal minerals of eclogite have greatly different strengths. Progressive increase of garnet results in a smooth increase in strength. Analysis by electron back-scattered diffraction shows that: (1) garnet displays pole figures with near random distributions of misorientation angle under both dry and wet conditions; (2) omphacite shows pronounced lattice preferred orientations (LPOs), suggesting a dominant dislocation creep mechanism. Further investigation into the water effects on eclogite show: (3) water content does not influence the style of omphacite fabric but increases slightly the fabric strength; (4) grain boundary processes dominate the deformation of garnet under high water fugacity or high shear-strain conditions, yielding a random LPO similar to that of non-deforming garnet, despite the strong shape preferred orientation (SPO) observed. {110} [001] slip may dominate the deformation of rutile. Quartz displays complicated and inconsistent LPOs in eclogite. These results are remarkably similar to observations from deformed eclogites in nature. [source]

Cenozoic stratigraphy and subsidence history of the South China Sea margin in the Taiwan region

BASIN RESEARCH, Issue 4 2003
A. T. Lin
Seismic reflection profiles and well data are used to determine the Cenozoic stratigraphic and tectonic development of the northern margin of the South China Sea. In the Taiwan region, this margin evolved from a Palaeogene rift to a latest Miocene,Recent foreland basin. This evolution is related to the opening of the South China Sea and its subsequent partial closure by the Taiwan orogeny. Seismic data, together with the subsidence analysis of deep wells, show that during rifting (,58,37 Ma), lithospheric extension occurred simultaneously in discrete rift belts. These belts form a >200 km wide rift zone and are associated with a stretching factor, ,, in the range ,1.4,1.6. By ,37 Ma, the focus of rifting shifted to the present-day continent,ocean boundary off southern Taiwan, which led to continental rupture and initial seafloor spreading of the South China Sea at ,30 Ma. Intense rifting during the rift,drift transition (,37,30 Ma) may have induced a transient, small-scale mantle convection beneath the rift. The coeval crustal uplift (Oligocene uplift) of the previously rifted margin, which led to erosion and development of the breakup unconformity, was most likely caused by the induced convection. Oligocene uplift was followed by rapid, early post-breakup subsidence (,30,18 Ma) possibly as the inferred induced convection abated following initial seafloor spreading. Rapid subsidence of the inner margin is interpreted as thermally controlled subsidence, whereas rapid subsidence in the outer shelf of the outer margin was accompanied by fault activity during the interval ,30,21 Ma. This extension in the outer margin (,,1.5) is manifested in the Tainan Basin, which formed on top of the deeply eroded Mesozoic basement. During the interval ,21,12.5 Ma, the entire margin experienced broad thermal subsidence. It was not until ,12.5 Ma that rifting resumed, being especially active in the Tainan Basin (,,1.1). Rifting ceased at ,6.5 Ma due to the orogeny caused by the overthrusting of the Luzon volcanic arc. The Taiwan orogeny created a foreland basin by loading and flexing the underlying rifted margin. The foreland flexure inherited the mechanical and thermal properties of the underlying rifted margin, thereby dividing the basin into north and south segments. The north segment developed on a lithosphere where the major rift/thermal event occurred ,58,30 Ma, and this segment shows minor normal faulting related to lithospheric flexure. In contrast, the south segment developed on a lithosphere, which experienced two more recent rift/thermal events during ,30,21 and ,12.5,6.5 Ma. The basal foreland surface of the south segment is highly faulted, especially along the previous northern rifted flank, thereby creating a deeper foreland flexure that trends obliquely to the strike of the orogen. [source]

Two-dimensional Numerical Modeling Research on Continent Subduction Dynamics

WANG Zhimin
Abstract Continent subduction is one of the hot research problems in geoscience. New models presented here have been set up and two-dimensional numerical modeling research on the possibility of continental subduction has been made with the finite element software, ANSYS, based on documentary evidence and reasonable assumptions that the subduction of oceanic crust has occurred, the subduction of continental crust can take place and the process can be simplified to a discontinuous plane strain theory model. The modeling results show that it is completely possible for continental crust to be subducted to a depth of 120 km under certain circumstances and conditions. At the same time, the simulations of continental subduction under a single dynamical factor have also been made, including the pull force of the subducted oceanic lithosphere, the drag force connected with mantle convection and the push force of the mid-ocean ridge. These experiments show that the drag force connected with mantle convection is critical for continent subduction. [source]