2D and 3D numerical models on compositionally buoyant diapirs in the mantle wedge.

Hasenclever, Jörg, Phipps Morgan, Jason, Hort, Matthias and Rüpke, Lars H. (2011) 2D and 3D numerical models on compositionally buoyant diapirs in the mantle wedge. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 311 (1-2). pp. 53-68. DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.08.043.

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We present 2D and 3D numerical model calculations that focus on the physics of compositionally buoyant diapirs rising within a mantle wedge corner flow. Compositional buoyancy is assumed to arise from slab dehydration during which water-rich volatiles enter the mantle wedge and form a wet, less dense boundary layer on top of the slab. Slab dehydration is prescribed to occur in the 80–180 km deep slab interval, and the water transport is treated as a diffusion-like process. In this study, the mantle's rheology is modeled as being isoviscous for the benefit of easier-to-interpret feedbacks between water migration and buoyant viscous flow of the mantle. We use a simple subduction geometry that does not change during the numerical calculation. In a large set of 2D calculations we have identified that five different flow regimes can form, in which the position, number, and formation time of the diapirs vary as a function of four parameters: subduction angle, subduction rate, water diffusivity (mobility), and mantle viscosity. Using the same numerical method and numerical resolution we also conducted a suite of 3D calculations for 16 selected parameter combinations. Comparing the 2D and 3D results for the same model parameters reveals that the 2D models can only give limited insights into the inherently 3D problem of mantle wedge diapirism. While often correctly predicting the position and onset time of the first diapir(s), the 2D models fail to capture the dynamics of diapir ascent as well as the formation of secondary diapirs that result from boundary layer perturbations caused by previous diapirs. Of greatest importance for physically correct results is the numerical resolution in the region where diapirs nucleate, which must be high enough to accurately capture the growth of the thin wet boundary layer on top of the slab and, subsequently, the formation, morphology, and ascent of diapirs. Here 2D models can be very useful to quantify the required resolution, which we find for a 1019 Pa · s mantle wedge to be about 1 km node spacing for quadratic-order velocity elements.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Meeresgeologie; Subduction zones; numerical modeling; mantle wedge; slab dehydration; diapirism
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 574 > C5
OceanRep > SFB 574
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.08.043
ISSN: 0012-821X
Projects: SFB574, Future Ocean
Contribution Number:
SFB 574227
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2011 15:08
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 13:55
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/13114

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