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Thermal convection in a cylindrical annulus with a non-Newtonian outer surface

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This study presents the results of numerical simulations of a model for lithospheremantle coupling in a terrestrial type planet. To first order, a geologically active terrestrial type planet may consist of a metallic core, silicate mantle and lithosphere, with the lithosphere being rheologically different from the mantle. Therefore we have developed a numerical model consisting of a thin non-Newtonian fluid hoop that is dynamically coupled to a thick Newtonian fluid cylindrical annulus. Thus the rheological dichotomy between mantle and lithosphere is built into the model. Time-dependent calculations show the existence of at least two regimes of behaviors. In one regime, the behavior of the hoop switches between periods characterized by low or high speeds, in response to changes in convective vigor and planform. This regime may apply to the planet Venus where the available evidence indicates that prior to 500 myr ago, the planet was resurfaced on a time scale of <100 myr. Since that time, large-scale tectonic activity on Venus has been sharply curtailed. In the other regime, which is more like plate tectonics on Earth, the hoop speeds rise and fall on short time scales.

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Weinstein, S.A. Thermal convection in a cylindrical annulus with a non-Newtonian outer surface. PAGEOPH 146, 551–572 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00874733

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Key words

  • Cylindrical annulus
  • thermal convection
  • radiogenic isotopes
  • fluid hoop
  • surface deformation