The interaction between mantle plumes and lithosphere and its surface expressions: 3-D numerical modelling

Yongming Wang, Mingming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The rise of mantle plumes to the base of the lithosphere leads to observable surface expressions, which provide important information about the deep mantle structure. However, the process of plume-lithosphere interaction and its surface expressions remain not well understood. In this study, we perform 3-D spherical numerical simulations to investigate the relationship between surface observables induced by plume-lithosphere interaction (including dynamic topography, geoid anomaly and melt production rate) and the physical properties of plume and lithosphere (including plume size, plume excess temperature, plume viscosity, and lithosphere viscosity and thickness). We find that the plume-induced surface expressions have strong spatial and temporal variations. Before reaching the base of the lithosphere, the rise of a plume head in the deep mantle causes positive and rapid increase of dynamic topography and geoid anomaly at the surface but no melt production. The subsequent impinging of a plume head at the base of the lithosphere leads to further increase of dynamic topography and geoid anomaly and causes rapid increase of melt production. After reaching maximum values, these plume-induced observables become relatively stable and are more affected by the plume conduit. In addition, whereas the geoid anomaly and dynamic topography decrease from regions above the plume centre to regions above the plume edge, the melt production always concentrates at the centre part of the plume. We also find that the surface expressions have different sensitivities to plume and lithosphere properties. The dynamic topography significantly increases with the plume size, plume excess temperature and plume viscosity. The geoid anomaly also increases with the size and excess temperature of the plume but is less sensitive to plume viscosity. Compared to the influence of plume properties, the dynamic topography and geoid anomaly are less affected by lithosphere viscosity and thickness. The melt production significantly increases with plume size, plume excess temperature and plume viscosity, but decreases with lithosphere viscosity and thickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-925
Number of pages20
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume225
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Keywords

  • Dynamics of lithosphere and mantle
  • Dynamics: convection currents and mantle plumes
  • Mantle processes
  • Numerical modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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