Thermochemical plumes and mantle phase transition.

P. Olson, D. A. Yuen

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34 Scopus citations


Integral relations based on boundary layer theory are derived to study the motion of an isolated, two-dimensional thermal plume through a viscous mantle containing polymorphic phase changes. Analytical results are obtained which show that phase transitions alter average mantle convective velocities by <50%. In particular we find that the olivine-spinel transition, approximated as univariant, can enhance the circulation velocity of mantle convection by 30- 40%, while it can enhance the overall amplitude of whole mantle convection by a few percent only. Our calculations demonstrate that a possible endothermic phase change located at 650km will not prevent deep mantle convection unless the Clapeyron slope defining the transition exceeds -0.3kbar/oK. This large value is more than one order of magnitude greater than what has been proposed for the 650km discontinuity. We then extend the method to include compositional buoyancy and effects of the divariant nature of the olivine-spinel transition. Analysis of the motion of a compositionally buoyant plume (one having an anomalous Mg/Fe ratio relative to the ambient mantle) reveals that the chemical plume locally distorts the transition in a way which contributes buoyancy and enhances convective amplitudes by 10% or less. Finally, we combine thermal and compositional buoyancy to investigate the interaction between a thermochemical plume and a compositionally induced density interface.-Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3993-4002
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB5
StatePublished - 1982


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