Degree-one mantle convection: Dependence on internal heating and temperature-dependent rheology

Allen K. McNamara, Shijie Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Geophysical and geological observations suggest that a degree-one mantle flow pattern, consisting of one upwelling and one downwelling, may have existed at some time in the mantles of Mars, the Moon, and perhaps even for the Earth during times of supercontinent formation. Simple fluid experiments utilizing isoviscous rheologies predict shorter wavelength flow patterns, and it is therefore important to determine fluid dynamical parameter sets which lead to larger wavelength flow patterns consistent with observations. We perform a series of numerical fluid dynamics calculations in a spherical 3-D geometry in which we vary Rayleigh number, rheological activation parameter, and the degree of internal heating in order to define which parameter choices can lead to degree-one mantle convection. We find that increasing the degree of internal heating increases the interior temperature of the mantle which leads to a larger viscosity contrast across the top thermal boundary layer, and that degree-one mantle flow occurs only in cases which exhibit internal heating, utilize activation coefficients which lead to 103 or higher viscosity contrasts across the mantle, and have viscosity contrasts across the top thermal boundary layer within the range of 200-3000.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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