Instabilities from phase transitions and the timescales of mantle thermal evolution

Volker Steinbach, David A. Yuen, Wuling Zhao

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83 Scopus citations


We have investigated the effects of mantle phase‐transitions on the Earth's thermal evolution by numerical modelling. Our results show that the tendency of layering grows with increasing vigor of convection. A self‐consistent model which couples the convective dynamics of the mantle to the secular cooling of the core is constructed. For a temperature‐dependent effective viscosity, we found that the thermal history of the Earth is characterized by two timescales, one is associated with layered convection in the early period, which is followed by a transition period with dramatic overturns. As the Rayleigh number decreases sufficiently low, whole mantle convection prevails and a faster cooling timescale ensues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1122
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 18 1993


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