Melt Propagation and Volcanism in Mantle Convection Simulations, with Applications for Martian Volcanic and Atmospheric Evolution

C. O'Neill and A. Lenardic (Rice University)
A.M. Jellinek (Univ. British Columbia)
W.S. Kiefer (Lunar and Planetary Institute)

J. Geophys. Research 112, E07003, doi:10.1029/2006JE002799, 2007

Abstract: Standard models for a warm, wet early Mars require a significant CO2-H2O atmosphere in the past. The source for these phases is assumed to be volcanic degassing. However, no consistent dynamical models exist relating volcanic degassing to evolving mantle temperatures. Here we use a range of thermal, geophysical, geological, and petrological constraints from Mars to constrain mantle convection model simulations of Mars' post-Noachian stagnant lid evolution. We develop a methodology to self-consistently calculate melt extraction from the mantle source region. Using a dyke-propagation algorithm, we can calculate the rate of volcanism and rate of volcanic degassing from these simulations and compare them with estimates for Mars. We find martian melt production rates are satisfied by a 200 km thick lithosphere (surface heat flow 25 ± 5 mW/m2), for an intermediate martian solidus. Core-mantle temperatures cannot exceed ~1850 oC from geodynamo constraints, and the enrichment of heat-producing elements into the crust is unlikely to exceed 25-50%. For hotter martian mantle temperatures in the past, we find an evolution in rates of volcanism from > 0.17 km3/yr for the early Hesperian to ~1x10-4 km3/yr at present, consistent with geological evidence. During this interval, CO2 flux would have declined from 8.8x107 kg/yr to 6.7x106 kg/yr. If the early Hesperian supported a dense (> 1 bar) atmosphere, this implies that the average loss rate of CO2 from the atmosphere was fifteen times greater than the maximum influx rate during this time.

Text of paper (on AGU website)

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