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Dynamics and excess temperature of a plume throughout its life cycle

Cagney, N; Lithgow-Bertelloni, C; (2016) Dynamics and excess temperature of a plume throughout its life cycle. Geophysical Journal International , 205 (3) pp. 1574-1588. 10.1093/gji/ggw104. Green open access

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Abstract

Measurements of the velocity field associated with plumes rising through a viscous fluid are performed using stereoscopic Particle-Image Velocimetry in the Rayleigh number range 4.4 × 105 − 6.4 × 105. The experimental model is analogous to a mantle plume rising from the core-mantle boundary to the base of the lithosphere. The behaviour of the plume is studied throughout its life cycle, which is broken up into four stages; the Formation Stage, when the plume forms; the Rising Stage, when the plume rises through the fluid; the Spreading Stage, when the plume reaches the surface and spreads; and finally the Declining Stage, when the heat source has been removed and the plume weakens. The latter three stages are examined in terms of the Finite-Time Lyapunov Exponent fields and the advection of passive tracers throughout the flow. The temperature at the heater and near the fluid surface are measured using thermocouples to infer how the presence of a mantle plume would produce excess temperature near the lithosphere throughout the various stages of its life cycle. In all experiments a time lag is observed between the removal of the heat source and the decline in the excess temperature near the surface, which is proportional to the rise time. A simple analytical model is presented, which suggests that under mantle conditions (i.e. negligible thermal diffusion), the relationship between the time lag and the rise time is robust and independent of the Rayleigh number; however, the constant of proportionality is closer to unity in the absence of diffusion. Once the heat source is removed, the excess temperature near the surface declines exponentially at a rate that is inversely proportional to the rise time. The implications of this result are discussed in terms of the decline in volcanism in the Louisville hotspot chain over the past 20 Ma. The rise velocity of material in the plume is examined; the rise velocity is found to vary significantly with the plume height in a manner that is inconsistent with many of the common semi-analytical models of thermal plumes in the literature. It is also argued that this height-dependency will cause estimates of the rise velocity based on the decay series of Uranium isotopes to significantly underestimate the true value.

Type: Article
Title: Dynamics and excess temperature of a plume throughout its life cycle
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/gji/ggw104
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggw104
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Mantle plumes, Mantle convection, Hotspots
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477170
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