Geoid Anomalies and Dynamic Topography from Convection in Cylindrical Geometry: Applications to Mantle Plumes on Earth and Venus

Walter S. Kiefer and Bradford H. Hager (Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech)

Geophysical Journal International, 108, 198-214, 1992.

Abstract: A variety of evidence suggests that at least some hotspots are formed by quasi-cylindrical mantle plumes upwelling from deep in the mantle. We model such plumes in cylindrical, axisymmetric geometry with depth-dependent, Newtonian viscosity. Cylindrical and sheet-like, Cartesian upwellings have significantly different geoid and topography signatures. However, Rayleigh number-Nusselt number systematics in the two geometries are quite similar. The geoid anomaly and topographic uplift over a plume are insensitive to the viscosity of the surface layer, provided that it is at least 1000 times the interior viscosity. Increasing the Rayleigh number or including a low-viscosity asthenosphere decreases the geoid anomaly and the topographic uplift associated with an upwelling plume. Increasing the aspect ratio increases both the geoid anomaly and the topographic uplift of a plume. The Nusselt number is a weak function of the aspect ratio, with its maximum value occurring at an aspect ratio of slightly less than 1.

Text of paper (at Wiley Interscience website)

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Walter S. Kiefer,   kiefer@lpi.usra.edu