October 2015

Art and geodynamics



©Samuel Maillot

Lea Bello and Samuel Maillot worked on a picture in the These’s art festival. Check this out here (in french): https://sciencespourtous.univ-lyon1.fr/theses-art-lea-bello-manteau-terrestre/

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New paper “Assessing the role of slab rheology in coupled plate-mantle convection models”

New paper published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, as a collaboration between Lyon, Zurich and Sydney. The manuscript, a part of the PhD work of Léa Bello, shows how rheology influences the numerical solutions obtained when driving a convection model with surface plates. Check it here: Belloetal2015.


Reconstructing the 3D structure of the Earth’s mantle has been a challenge for geodynamicists for about 40 yr. Although numerical models and computational capabilities have substantially progressed, parameterizations used for modeling convection forced by plate motions are far from being Earth- like. Among the set of parameters, rheology is fundamental because it defines in a non-linear way the dynamics of slabs and plumes, and the organization of lithosphere deformation. In this study, we evaluate the role of the temperature dependence of viscosity (variations up to 6 orders of magnitude) and the importance of pseudo-plasticity on reconstructing slab evolution in 3D spherical models of convection driven by plate history models. Pseudo-plasticity, which produces plate-like behavior in convection models, allows a consistent coupling between imposed plate motions and global convection, which is not possible with temperature-dependent viscosity alone. Using test case models, we show that increasing temperature dependence of viscosity enhances vertical and lateral coherence of slabs, but leads to unrealistic slab morphologies for large viscosity contrasts. Introducing pseudo-plasticity partially solves this issue, producing thin laterally and vertically more continuous slabs, and flat subduction where trench retreat is fast. We evaluate the differences between convection reconstructions employing different viscosity laws to be very large, and similar to the differences between two models with the same rheology but using two different plate histories or initial conditions.


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