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Multiagent simulation of evolutive plate tectonics applied to the thermal evolution of the Earth

Abstract : [1] The feedback between plate tectonics and mantle convection controls the Earth's thermal evolution via the seafloor age distribution. We therefore designed the MACMA model to simulate time-dependent plate tectonics in a 2D cylindrical geometry with evolutive plate boundaries, based on multiagent systems that express thermal and mechanical interactions. We compute plate velocities using a local force balance and use explicit parameterizations to treat tectonic processes such as trench migration, subduction initiation, continental breakup and plate suturing. These implementations allow the model to update its geometry and thermal state at all times. Our approach has two goals: (1) to test how empirically- and analyticallydetermined rules for surface processes affect mantle and plate dynamics, and (2) to investigate how plate tectonics impact the thermal regime. Our predictions for driving forces, plate velocities and heat flux are in agreement with independent observations. Two time scales arise for the evolution of the heat flux: a linear long-term decrease and high-amplitude short-term fluctuations due to surface tectonics. We also obtain a plausible thermal history, with mantle temperature decreasing by less than 200 K over the last 3 Gyr. In addition, we show that on the long term, mantle viscosity is less thermally influential than tectonic processes such as continental breakup or subduction initiation, because Earth's cooling rate depends mainly on its ability to replace old insulating seafloor by young thin oceanic lithosphere. We infer that simple convective considerations alone cannot account for the nature of mantle heat loss and that tectonic processes dictate the thermal evolution of the Earth.
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Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, November 10, 2012 - 7:00:41 AM
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M. Combes, Cécile Grigné, Laurent Husson, C. P. Conrad, Sébastien Le Yaouanq, et al.. Multiagent simulation of evolutive plate tectonics applied to the thermal evolution of the Earth. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, AGU and the Geochemical Society, 2012, 13 (5), pp.Q05006. ⟨10.1029/2011GC004014⟩. ⟨insu-00695970⟩



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