Towards a self-consistent plate mantle model that includes elasticity: simple benchmarks and application to basic modes of convection

H-B. Muhlhaus, Klaus Regenauer-Lieb

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    One of the difficulties with self-consistent plate-mantle models capturing multiple physical features, such as elasticity, non-Newtonian flow properties and temperature dependence, is that the individual behaviours cannot be considered in isolation. For instance, if a viscous mantle convection model is generalized naively to include hypo-elasticity, then problems based on Earth-like Rayleigh numbers exhibit almost insurmountable numerical stability issues due to spurious softening associated with the co-rotational stress terms. If a stress limiter is introduced in the form of a power-law rheology or yield criterion these difficulties can be avoided. In this paper, a novel Eulerian finite element formulation for viscoelastic convection is presented and the implementation of the co-rotational stress terms is addressed. The salient dimensionless numbers of viscoelastic-plastic flows such as Weissenberg, Deborah and Bingham numbers are discussed in a separate section in the context of Geodynamics. We present an Eulerian formulation for slow temperature-dependent, viscoelastic-plastic flows. A consistent tangent (incremental) formulation of the governing equations is derived. Numerical and analytical solutions demonstrating the effect of viscoelasticity, co-rotational terms are first discussed for simplified benchmark problems. For flow around cylinders we identify parameter ranges of predominantly viscous and viscoplastic and transient behaviour. The influence of locally high strain rates on the importance of elasticity and non-Newtonian effects is also discussed in this context. For the case of simple shear we investigate in detail the effect of different co-rotational stress rates and the effect of power-law creep. The results show that the effect of the co-rotational terms is insignificant if realistic stress levels are considered (e.g. deviatoric invariant smaller than 1/10 of the shear modulus say). We also consider the basic convection modes of stagnant lid, episodic resurfacing and mobile lid convection as applicable to a cooling planet. The simulations show that elasticity does not have a significant effect on global parameters such as the Nusselt number and the qualitative nature of the basic convection pattern. Our simple benchmarks show, however, also that elasticity plays a significant role for instabilities on the local scale of an individual subduction zone.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)788-800
    JournalGeophysical Journal International
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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