Articles | Volume 13, issue 1
Method article
28 Jan 2022
Method article |  | 28 Jan 2022

On the choice of finite element for applications in geodynamics

Cedric Thieulot and Wolfgang Bangerth

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Subject area: Core and mantle structure and dynamics | Editorial team: Geodynamics and quantitative modelling | Discipline: Geodynamics
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Cited articles

Alisic, L., Gurnis, M., Stadler, G., Burstedde, C., and Ghattas, O.: Multi-scale dynamics and rheology of mantle flow with plates, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B10402,, 2012. a
Arndt, D., Bangerth, W., Davydov, D., Heister, T., Heltai, L., Kronbichler, M., Maier, M., Pelteret, J.-P., Turcksin, B., and Wells, D.: The deal. II finite element library: Design, features, and insights, Comput. Math. Appl., 81, 407–422,, 2020. a
Arrial, P.-A. and Billen, M.: Influence of geometry and eclogitization on oceanic plateau subduction, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 363, 34–43,, 2013. a, b, c, d
ASPECT developers: ASPECT: Advanced Solver for Problems in Earth's ConvecTion, available at:, last access: 17 January 2022. a
Bangerth, W., Hartmann, R., and Kanschat, G.: A General-Purpose Object-Oriented Finite Element Library, ACM T. Math. Software, 33, 24–51,, 2007. a
Short summary
One of the main numerical methods to solve the mass, momentum, and energy conservation equations in geodynamics is the finite-element method. Four main types of elements have been used in the past decades in hundreds of publications. For the first time we compare results obtained with these four elements on a series of geodynamical benchmarks and applications and draw conclusions as to which are the best ones and which are to be preferably avoided.