Joint CSDMS-SEN annual meeting 2016: Capturing Climate Change

Links Between Mantle Convection, Tectonics, Erosion and Climate: Recent Model Developments and Results

Jean Braun

Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Universitaire de Grenoble, France

Plate tectonics is the primary process controlling the Earth’s surface topography. In recent years, geodynamicists have emphasised the role that deep mantle flow may play in directly creating long wavelength, low amplitude topography (a so-called “dynamic” contribution to surface topography). In parallel, geomorphologists have investigated how surface processes (erosion, transport and sedimentation) may affect dynamic topography, with the aim of better understanding its signature in the geological record. To achieve this, we have developed a new class of surface processes models that represent the combined effects of physical erosion and chemical alteration within continental interiors. In developing these models, we have paid much attention to maintaining high efficiency and stability such that they could be used to model large continental areas with sufficient spatial resolution to represent the processes at the appropriate scale. I will briefly present these algorithms as well as the results of two separate studies in which we explain the anomalously rapid erosion of surface material during the passage of a continent over a fixed source of dynamic topography driven by upward flow in the mantle. I will also comment on how these models are strongly dependent on precipitation patterns and, ultimately, will need to be fully coupled to climate models to provide more meaningful constraints on the past evolution of surface topography.

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Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Geodynamics Focus Research Group