10 Nov 2022
10 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

True polar wander and heat flux patterns at the core-mantle boundary in a mantle convection simulation

Thomas Frasson1, Stéphane Labrosse2, Henri-Claude Nataf1, and Nicolas Coltice3 Thomas Frasson et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Univ. Savoie Mont Blanc, CNRS, IRD, Univ. Gustave Eiffel, ISTerre, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2ENS de Lyon, Lyon, France
  • 3ENS, Paris, France

Abstract. The core-mantle boundary (CMB) heat flux is an important variable of Earth's thermal evolution and dynamics. Seismic tomography enables access to seismic heterogeneities in the lower mantle, which can be related to present-day thermal heterogeneities. Alternatively, mantle convection models can be used to either infer the past CMB heat flux or to produce statistically realistic CMB heat flux distributions in self-consistent models. Mantle dynamics modifies the inertia tensor of the Earth, which implies a rotation of the Earth with respect to its rotation axis called True Polar Wander (TPW). This rotation has to be taken into account if mantle dynamics is to be linked to core dynamics. In this study, we explore the TPW and the CMB heat flux produced by a self-consistent mantle convection model. The geoid is also computed and investigated in order to determine the driving mechanism of TPW. This model includes continents, dense chemical piles at the bottom of the shell and plate-like behavior, providing the possibility to link TPW and the CMB heat flux with plate tectonics. A principal component analysis (PCA) of the CMB heat flux is computed to obtain the dominant heat flux patterns. The model shows a geoid dominated by upper mantle structures. Subduction zones and continents are correlated with positive geoid anomalies, about 20 times larger than the observed geoid anomalies. Chemical piles are mostly correlated with negative geoid anomalies because of the anti-correlation between the positions of subducting slabs and the piles. TPW thus tends to lock continents and subduction zones close to the equator, while chemical piles are shifted towards higher latitudes. The positive CMB heat flux anomalies are mostly located at low latitudes because of the equatorial slabs. The dominant heat flux patterns obtained by the PCA largely reflect the supercontinent cycle captured by the model, providing CMB heat flux patterns representative of the supercontinent formation and dispersal.

Thomas Frasson et al.

Status: open (until 06 Jan 2023)

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Thomas Frasson et al.

Data sets

CMB heat flux PCA results Thomas Frasson, Stéphane Labrosse, Henri-Claude Nataf, Nicolas Coltice

Thomas Frasson et al.


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Short summary
We used the results of a global 3d mantle convection model showing plate-like behaviour to study the heat flux at the base of the mantle and the wandering of the pole due to masses displacement inside the Earth during mantle convection. Subduction zones and continents are driving this wandering by maintaining themselves close to the equator, which translates in high equatorial heat flux patches in the lower mantle. The dominant heat flux patterns can be related to surface plate-tectonics.