Dynamics and internal structure of a lower mantle plume conduit | INSTITUT DE PHYSIQUE DU GLOBE DE PARIS


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  Dynamics and internal structure of a lower mantle plume conduit

Type de publication:

Journal Article


Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 282, Ticket 1-4, p.314-322 (2009)



Numéro d'accès:





UMR 7154 ; Dynamique des fluides géologiques ; N° Contribution : 2489 ; mantle plumes; D″; geochemical ; heterogeneity; Hawaiian plume


<p>Geochemical studies, including those made possible by the Hawaiian Scientific Drilling Project, have revealed the chemically and isotopically heterogeneous nature of hotspot lavas, yet their interpretation is highly controversial and there is little agreement as to how geochemical heterogeneities might be spatially arranged within the plume conduit. To address this issue we conduct high resolution numerical simulations of an axisymmetric purely thermal plume, focusing on the lower mantle part of the conduit and on the thermal boundary layer (TBL) feeding the plume. We explore the relation between length-scales of heterogeneities across the source region and the length- and time-scales of geochemical variations in the plume conduit. The vertical velocity inside the conduit decreases exponentially with the square of radial distance generating high strain rates (order 10(-13)-10(-14)s(-1)) that modify the shape of upwelling heterogeneities into elongated and narrow filaments. Therefore, the preservation of 'blob-like' heterogeneities (i.e., with a 1:1 aspect ratio in a vertical section) is quite unlikely, even in the central part of the plume. For example, initial lenses of size 100 x 10 km in the TBL are stretched into filaments 500-1000 km long. These filaments constitute 'long-lived' structures in a rising plume, and their geochemical fingerprints may be registered at a given radial distance for several millions of years. We also consider an idealized heterogeneous architecture inside the TBI, consisting of 'trains' of small scale lenses. When such trains upwell in the conduit, they form high radial geochemical gradients. Their 'geochemical record', registered over time at a given depth and radial distance, will fluctuate over time, with shorter period and a larger amplitude at the conduit center than at its periphery. Finally, we demonstrate that material existing 'side by side' in the conduit originated from regions in the TBL that are separated by distances of several hundred kilometers. This implies that vigorous plumes are able to sample, and to bring side by side, very distant portions of their source region. Our results provide a fluid dynamically consistent framework to discuss the main aspects of the different (and to some extent mutually exclusive) models of conduit structure used to interpret the geochemical observations of the Hawaiian lavas. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.</p>