Geothermal Gradients Through Time

  • A. B. Thompson
Part of the Dahlem Workshop Reports Physical, Chemical, and Earth Sciences Research Reports book series (DAHLEM, volume 5)


Temperature-depth curves (geotherms) on a global scale are controlled by the overall cooling of the Earth as limited by its thermal boundary layers. On global length scales and 109a. time scales, the geothermal gradient in the continental lithosphere is likely to have decreased substantially, reflecting the progressive decrease in heat production from the radiogenic decay of K, Th, and U. The suboceanic lithospheric dT/dP may not have changed much since the Archean. On regional length scales, a thickening or thinning of the continental crust will cause perturbations of the steady state geotherms which, if exhumed after 107a., will be reflected in the grade of metamorphic rocks and the types of magmatic rocks at the surface. If these rocks are not transposed upwards to the surface within 108a., the thermal perturbations will have relaxed completely.


Continental Crust Magmatic Rock Geothermal Gradient Mantle Convection Thermal Perturbation 
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Copyright information

© Dr. S. Bernhard, Dahlem Konferenzen 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. B. Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.E.T.H. ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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