The Current Energetics of Earth's Interior: A Gravitational Energy Perspective.

Morgan, Jason P., Rüpke, Lars H. and White, William M. (2016) The Current Energetics of Earth's Interior: A Gravitational Energy Perspective. Open Access Frontiers in Earth Science, 4 (46). DOI 10.3389/feart.2016.00046.

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The Earth's mantle convects to lose heat (Holmes, 1931); doing so drives plate tectonics (Turcotte and Oxburgh, 1967). Significant gravitational energy is created by the cooling of oceanic lithosphere atop hotter, less dense mantle. When slabs subduct, this gravitational energy is mostly (~86% for whole mantle flow in a PREM-like mantle) transformed into heat by viscous dissipation. Using this perspective, we reassess the energetics of Earth's mantle. We also reconsider the terrestrial abundances of heat producing elements U, Th, and K, and argue they are lower than previously considered and that consequently the heat produced by radioactive decay within the mantle is comparable to the present-day potential gravitational energy release by subducting slabs—both are roughly ~10–12 TW. We reassess possible core heat flow into the base of the mantle, and determine that the core may be still losing a significant amount of heat from its original formation, potentially more than the radioactive heat generation within the mantle. These factors are all likely to be important for Earth's current energetics, and argue that strong plume-driven upwelling is likely to exist within the convecting mantle.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: mantle energetics, mantle evolution, Urey ratio, gravitational potential energy, mantle secular cooling, core energetics, core secular cooling
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.3389/feart.2016.00046
ISSN: 2296-6463
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 09:52
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:12

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