Free and forced convection in Earth's upper mantle
Convective motion within Earth's upper mantle occurs as a combination of two primary modes: (1) buoyant upwelling due to the formation of gravitational instabilities at thermochemical boundary layers, and (2) passive flow associated with the divergence of lithospheric plates at mid-ocean ridges and their re-entry into the mantle at subduction zones. The first mode is driven by variations in density and is therefore classified as ‘free’ convection. Examples of free convection within the Earth include the diapiric flow of hydrous and/or partially molten mantle at subduction zones and mantle plumes. The second mode, while ultimately driven by density on a global scale, can be treated kinematically on the scale of the upper mantle. This type of flow is designated ‘forced’ convection. On the scale of individual buoyant upwellings in the upper mantle, the forced convection associated with plate tectonics acts to modify the morphology of the flow associated with free convection. Regions in which such interactions occur are typically associated with transfer of significant quantities of both mass and energy (i.e., heat) between the deep interior and the surface of the Earth and thus afford a window into the dynamics of the Earth's interior. The dynamics and the consequences of the interaction between these two modes of convection is the focus of this dissertation. ^ I have employed both laboratory and numerical modeling techniques to investigate the interaction between free and forced convection in this study. Each of these approaches has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses. These approaches are therefore complementary, and their use in combination is particularly powerful. ^ I have focused on two examples interaction between free and forced convection in the upper mantle in this study. Chapter I considers the interaction between ascending diapirs of hydrous and/or partially molten mantle and flow in the mantle wedge at subduction zones using laboratory models. Chapter II and Chapter III consider the interaction between an ascending mantle plume and the large scale shear flow associated with the divergence of plates at a nearby ridge axis. ^
Paul S Hall,
"Free and forced convection in Earth's upper mantle"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).