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A general mathematical model for balanced global isostasy

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A general mathematical model of balanced global isostasy is presented that describes the geometrical relationships among atmospheric, oceanic, lithospheric, and asthenospheric components relative to a fixed, external frame of reference in terms of 19 parameters of mass, density, area, and thickness in five basic equations and various corollaries. The model is applicable and necessary for evaluating lithospheric processes that operate on a global scale or that affect globally oriented parameters such as sea level, freeboard, and ocean basin depth. It also provides a means of testing the internal consistency of a given set of mass, density, volume, and area parameters relative to present crustal geometry by showing how well they combine to predict present continental free-board. With modification, the basic model can be used to examine more complex questions involving glacially induced sea level fluctuations and long-term crustal evolution resulting from differential energy flux to Earth, short-term modulation of heat flux from the asthenosphere, and long-term monotonic cooling.

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Dockal, J.A., Laws, R.A. & Worsley, T.R. A general mathematical model for balanced global isostasy. Math Geol 21, 147–170 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00893212

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Key words

  • freeboard
  • glacial eustatism
  • diastrophic eustatism
  • Archimedes' principle
  • lithospheric structure