Publication Details

Bodur, O. & Rey, P. (2019). The impact of rheological uncertainty on dynamic topography predictions. Solid Earth, 10 (6), 2167-2178.


2020 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Much effort is being made to extract the dynamic components of the Earth's topography driven by density heterogeneities in the mantle. Seismically mapped density anomalies have been used as an input into mantle convection models to predict the present-day mantle flow and stresses applied on the Earth's surface, resulting in dynamic topography. However, mantle convection models give dynamic topography amplitudes generally larger by a factor of ∼2, depending on the flow wavelength, compared to dynamic topography amplitudes obtained by removing the isostatically compensated topography from the Earth's topography. In this paper, we use 3-D numerical experiments to evaluate the extent to which the dynamic topography depends on mantle rheology. We calculate the amplitude of instantaneous dynamic topography induced by the motion of a small spherical density anomaly (∼100km radius) embedded into the mantle. Our experiments show that, at relatively short wavelengths (1000km), the amplitude of dynamic topography, in the case of non-Newtonian mantle rheology, is reduced by a factor of ∼2 compared to isoviscous rheology. This is explained by the formation of a low-viscosity channel beneath the lithosphere and a decrease in thickness of the mechanical lithosphere due to induced local reduction in viscosity. The latter is often neglected in global mantle convection models. Although our results are strictly valid for flow wavelengths less than 1000km, we note that in non-Newtonian rheology all wavelengths are coupled, and the dynamic topography at long wavelengths will be influenced.



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