The influence of thermochemical convection on the fixity of mantle plumes

Allen K. McNamara, Shijie Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


A general feature of both isochemical and thermochemical studies of mantle convection is that horizontal plume velocities tend to be smaller than typical convective velocities, however, it is not clear which system leads to a greater fixity of mantle plumes. We perform two- and three-dimensional numerical calculations and compare both thermochemical and isochemical cases with similar convective vigor to determine whether presence of a dense component in the mantle can lead to smaller ratios of horizontal plume velocity to surface velocity. We investigate different viscosity and density contrasts between chemical components in the thermochemical calculations, and we perform isochemical calculations with both free-slip and no-slip bottom boundary conditions. We then compare both visually and quantitatively the results of the thermochemical and isochemical calculations to determine which leads to greater plume fixity. We find that horizontal plume velocities for thermochemical calculations are similar to those from isochemical calculations with no-slip bottom boundary conditions. In addition, we find that plumes tend to be more fixed for isochemical cases with free-slip bottom boundary conditions for two-dimensional calculations, however, in three dimensions, we find that plume fixity is similar to that observed in thermochemical calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-500
Number of pages16
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 30 2004


  • Lower mantle
  • Mantle convection
  • Plumes
  • Thermochemical convection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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