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Journal Articles Geophysical Journal International Year : 2006

Mantle lateral variations and elastogravitational deformations – I. Numerical modelling


The Earth response (deformation and gravity) to tides or to surface loads is traditionally computed assuming radial symmetry in stratified earth models, at the hydrostatic equilibrium. The present study aims at providing a new earth elastogravitational deformation model which accounts for the whole complexity of a more realistic earth. The model is based on a dynamically consistent equilibrium state which includes lateral variations in density and elastic parameters, and interface topographies. The deviation from the hydrostatic equilibrium has been taken into account as a first-order perturbation. We use a finite element method (spectral element method) and solve numerically the gravitoelasticity equations. As a validation application, we investigate the deformation of the Earth to surface loads. We first evaluate the classical loading Love numbers with a relative precision of about 0.3 per cent for PREM earth model. Then we assume an ellipsoidal homogeneous incom-pressible earth with hydrostatic pre-stresses. We investigate the impact of ellipticity on loading Love numbers analytically and numerically. We validate and discuss our numerical model. At periods greater than 1 hr, the solid earth is mainly deformed by luni-solar tides and by surface loads induced by different external fluid layers (ocean, atmosphere, continental hydrology, ice volumes). This work is devoted to the analytical and numerical development to compute the response of the Earth to such forcing. The body tides have been investigated since the 19th century. In 1862, Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson) made the first calculation of the elastic deformation of a homogeneous incompressible earth under the action of the tidal gravitational potential (Thomson 1862). Some years later, Love (1911) studied a compressible homogeneous earth model and showed that the tidal effects could be represented by a set of dimensionless numbers, the so-called Love numbers. Takeuchi (1950) obtained a first estimation of the Love numbers by a numerical integration of the equations using a reference earth model deduced from seismology. These results have been later extended (Smith 1974; Wahr 1981) to an ellipsoidal, rotating Earth with hydrostatic pre-stresses and a liquid core, and finally the effects of mantle anelasticity have been included (Wahr & Bergen 1986; Dehant 1987). In addition to tidal forces, mass changes in the atmosphere cause deformation and mass redistribution inside the planet. The Earth's response to such forcing involves both local and global surface motions and variations in the gravity field, which may be observed in geodetic experiments. These hydrological, atmospheric or oceanic effects on the Earth's gravity field are usually modelled for a spherical Earth with hydrostatic pre-stress (e.g. Farrell 1972; Wahr et al. 1998), generally identified to the preliminary reference earth model (PREM) developed by Dziewonski & Anderson (1981). However, the internal structure of the Earth is more complex than in a spherical non-rotating elastic isotropic (SNREI) earth model like PREM. Seismology and fluid dynamic studies show that the mantle presents heterogeneous structure induced by a thermochemical convection (Davaille 1999; Gu et al. 2001; Forte & Mitrovica 2001) and a bias from hydrostatic state. Large lateral heterogeneities have taken place on a million year timescale (Courtillot et al. 2003), like the two supposed superplumes under the Pacific and South Africa superswells, or like descending slabs. These aspects of the mantle structure are classically not taken into account in the deformation models. The elastogravitational deformations are presently observed with very high accuracy. The accuracy of superconducting gravimeter and of positioning techniques (GPS, VLBI) has seen a large improvement in the last decade. Moreover, the global gravity field will be of interest in the next 10 yr with the launch of the missions GRACE (in 2002) and GOCE (in 2007), which are dedicated to gravimetry and gradiometry 1060
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insu-01354840 , version 1 (19-08-2016)



Laurent Métivier, M Greff-Lefftz, M Diament. Mantle lateral variations and elastogravitational deformations – I. Numerical modelling. Geophysical Journal International, 2006, 167, pp.1060-1076. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03159.x⟩. ⟨insu-01354840⟩
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