Project

Back to overview

Mantle forcing of Earth surface evolution in Europe and the Mediterranean: From past to present (TOPO-4D) IP-5: The influence of mantle currents on the evolution of topography associated with slabs

English title Mantle forcing of Earth surface evolution in Europe and the Mediterranean: From past to present (TOPO-4D) IP-5: The influence of mantle currents on the evolution of topography associated with slabs
Applicant Tackley Paul
Number 138233
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut für Geophysik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geophysics
Start/End 01.11.2011 - 28.02.2013
Approved amount 90'326.00
Show all

Keywords (4)

subduction; plate tectonics; topography; mantle convection

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

This project is part of a broader TOPO-4D project “Mantle forcing of Earth surface evolution in Europe and the Mediterranean: From Past to Present”, an international Collaborative Research Project under the European TOPO-Europe Eurocores program. Our project is one of 6 Independent Projects in TOPO-4D, the other ones involving teams in Oslo, Utrecht (2), Rome and Bochum. Our Independent Project, funded by this grant, involves two sub-projects, each performed by a Ph.D. student. Both projects investigate subduction, one of the most important tectonic processes on Earth. The first project focusses on regional models of subduction, studying changes in surface topography caused by slab breakoff. The second study focusses on global models of convection and plate tectonics that include subduction, characterising in a general way the interaction between surface topography and changes in subduction and mantle convection, then using this to interpret specific observations. Both sub-studies have already obtained interesting results, giving a detailed understanding of the mechanisms that lead to slab breakoff and the resulting topographic response, and showing that a correct treatment of surface topography (i.e. a free surface) is essential for realistic subduction zones to arise in models. This grant extends the PhD studies of the two students for 6 months and 12 months respectively. In the additional 6 months of the regional sub-project (topographic response to slab breakoff), a  systematic 3-D study is being performed (the results so far are in 2-D). In the 12 months extension of the global sub-project, a systematic study in 3-D spherical geometry of self-consistent plate tectonics and mantle convection with both continental and oceanic plates will be performed.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Thermomechanical modeling of slab eduction
Duretz Thibault, Gerya T. V., Kaus B. J. P., Anderson T. B. (2012), Thermomechanical modeling of slab eduction, in Journal of Geophysical Research, 117(B8), B08411.
Dynamics of slab detachment
Duretz Thibault, Schmalholz S. M., Gerya T. V. (2012), Dynamics of slab detachment, in Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 13(3), Q03020.
A free plate surface and weak oceanic crust produce single-sided subduction on Earth
Crameri Fabio, Tackley P.J., Meilick I., Gerya T. V., Kaus B. J. P. (2012), A free plate surface and weak oceanic crust produce single-sided subduction on Earth, in Geophysical Research Letters, 39(3), L03306.
A comparison of numerical surface topography calculations in geodynamic modelling: an evaluation of the ‘sticky air’ method
Crameri Fabio, Schmeling H., Golabek G. J., Duretz T., Orendt R., Buiter S. J. H., May D. A., Kaus B. J. P., Gerya T. V., Tackley P. J. (2012), A comparison of numerical surface topography calculations in geodynamic modelling: an evaluation of the ‘sticky air’ method, in Geophysical Journal International, 189(1), 38-54.
Slab detachment during continental collision: Influence of crustal rheology and interaction with lithospheric delamination
Duretz Thibault, Gerya Taras, Slab detachment during continental collision: Influence of crustal rheology and interaction with lithospheric delamination, in Tectonophysics, in press.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- Publication
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Germany (Europe)
- Publication
Geothe University, Frankfurt Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Oslo Norway (Europe)
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2012 03.12.2012 San Francisco, USA
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2012 16.11.2012 Bern, Switzerland
GeoMod 2012 15.07.2012 Lausanne, Switzerland
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011 05.12.2011 San Francisco, USA
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2011 11.11.2011 Zurich, Switzerland


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Neue Einblicke ins Innere der Erde Swiss National Television "Einstein" popular science program German-speaking Switzerland 08.03.2012
Media relations: print media, online media Plate tectonics modelled realistically ETH Life German-speaking Switzerland 23.02.2012
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Plate tectonics modelled realistically, interview with Fabio Crameri, ETH Zurich (by CSCS) YouTube International 10.03.2012
Media relations: print media, online media Plattentektonik realitätsnah modellieren Geosciences AKTUEL (ScNat Geosciences) German-speaking Switzerland 01.02.2012
Media relations: radio, television Tektonische Simulation in 3D SRF (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen) German-speaking Switzerland 08.03.2012
Media relations: print media, online media Wie Aale schwimmen und Platten abtauchen ETH Globe German-speaking Switzerland 01.07.2012

Awards

Title Year
ETH Silver Medal for outstanding PhD thesis 2012

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
120535 TOPO-4D - Mantle forcing of Earth surface evolution in Europe and the Mediterranean: From Past to Present (IP5) 01.08.2008 Project funding (special)

Abstract

We are presently performing an SNF-funded research project that is part of the larger TOPO-4D project “Mantle forcing of Earth surface evolution in Europe and the Mediterranean: From Past to Present”, an international Collaborative Research Project (CRP) awarded under the European TOPO-Europe Eurocores program. Our project is one of 6 Independent Projects (IPs) in TOPO-4D, the other ones involving teams in Oslo, Utrecht (2), Rome and Bochum. Our IP, funded by SNF, involves two sub-projects, each performed by a Ph.D. student. The first study focusses on regional models of subduction, identifying the response of surface topography to the evolution of subduction-collision zones, in particular to slab breakoff. The second study focusses on global models of convection and plate tectonics that include subduction, characterising in a general way the interaction between surface topography and changes in subduction and mantle convection, then using this to interpret specific observations. Both sub-studies have already obtained interesting results, giving a detailed understanding of the mechanisms that lead to slab breakoff and the resulting topographic response, and showing that a correct treatment of surface topography (i.e. a free surface) is essential for realistic subduction zones to arise in models. These results have been presented at international conferences and have resulted in at least one submitted or published paper per study. Here we request funds to allow the two students an additional 6 months and 12 months respectively. The 12 months extension is requested because the student presently only has 25 months (too short to finish a PhD) of funding due to an earlier student, and the 6 months is requested to allow that student to capitalise on his progress, fully finish the sub-studies that he has started and complete two papers more than he would with the present end date. The additional 6 months for the regional study (topographic response to slab breakoff) would facilitate the completion of a systematic 3-D study (the results so far are in 2-D). The 3-D model is available, but there will not be time for a systematic study with the present ending date. It would also facilitate the completion of a technical advance: nonlinear Newton iterations, which would greatly help this and future modelling efforts. The 12 months extension for the global study would facilitate a systematic study in 3-D spherical geometry of self-consistent plate tectonics and mantle convection with both continental and oceanic plates, which is really needed to answer the questions originally posed and to allow the student to complete a full 3 years of PhD research.
-