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The dynamics of plate tectonics and mantle flow: from local to global scales.

Authors
  • Stadler, Georg1
  • Gurnis, Michael
  • Burstedde, Carsten
  • Wilcox, Lucas C
  • Alisic, Laura
  • Ghattas, Omar
  • 1 Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Science
Publisher
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Publication Date
Aug 27, 2010
Volume
329
Issue
5995
Pages
1033–1038
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191223
PMID: 20798311
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Plate tectonics is regulated by driving and resisting forces concentrated at plate boundaries, but observationally constrained high-resolution models of global mantle flow remain a computational challenge. We capitalized on advances in adaptive mesh refinement algorithms on parallel computers to simulate global mantle flow by incorporating plate motions, with individual plate margins resolved down to a scale of 1 kilometer. Back-arc extension and slab rollback are emergent consequences of slab descent in the upper mantle. Cold thermal anomalies within the lower mantle couple into oceanic plates through narrow high-viscosity slabs, altering the velocity of oceanic plates. Viscous dissipation within the bending lithosphere at trenches amounts to approximately 5 to 20% of the total dissipation through the entire lithosphere and mantle.

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