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Geosciences 2017, 7(4), 126; doi:10.3390/geosciences7040126

Supercontinent Cycle and Thermochemical Structure in the Mantle: Inference from Two-Dimensional Numerical Simulations of Mantle Convection

Geodynamics Research Center, Ehime University, 2–5 Bunkyo-cho, Matsuyama 790-8577, Ehime, Japan
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Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 13 November 2017 / Accepted: 30 November 2017 / Published: 5 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mantle Circulation and Plate Movement)
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Abstract

In this study, we conduct numerical simulations of thermochemical mantle convection in a 2D spherical annulus with a highly viscous lid drifting along the top surface, in order to investigate the interrelation between the motion of the surface (super)continent and the behavior of chemical heterogeneities imposed in the lowermost mantle. Our calculations show that assembly and dispersal of supercontinents occur in a cyclic manner when a sufficient amount of chemically-distinct dense material resides in the base of the mantle against the convective mixing. The motion of surface continents is significantly driven by strong ascending plumes originating around the dense materials in the lowermost mantle. The hot dense materials horizontally move in response to the motion of continents at the top surface, which in turn horizontally move the ascending plumes leading to the breakup of newly-formed supercontinents. We also found that the motion of dense materials in the base of the mantle is driven toward the region beneath a newly-formed supercontinent largely by the horizontal flow induced by cold descending flows from the top surface occurring away from the (super)continent. Our findings imply that the dynamic behavior of cold descending plumes is the key to the understanding of the relationship between the supercontinent cycle on the Earth’s surface and the thermochemical structures in the lowermost mantle, through modulating not only the positions of chemically-dense materials, but also the occurrence of ascending plumes around them. View Full-Text
Keywords: mantle convection; supercontinent cycles; chemical heterogeneity in the lowermost mantle mantle convection; supercontinent cycles; chemical heterogeneity in the lowermost mantle
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kameyama, M.; Harada, A. Supercontinent Cycle and Thermochemical Structure in the Mantle: Inference from Two-Dimensional Numerical Simulations of Mantle Convection. Geosciences 2017, 7, 126.

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