Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
Solid Earth, 2, 315–326, 2011
Solid Earth, 2, 315–326, 2011

Research article 19 Dec 2011

Research article | 19 Dec 2011

Influence of the Ringwoodite-Perovskite transition on mantle convection in spherical geometry as a function of Clapeyron slope and Rayleigh number

M. Wolstencroft*,1 and J. H. Davies1 M. Wolstencroft and J. H. Davies
  • 1School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 3AT, UK
  • *now at: University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Abstract. We investigate the influence on mantle convection of the negative Clapeyron slope ringwoodite to perovskite and ferro-periclase mantle phase transition, which is correlated with the seismic discontinuity at 660 km depth. In particular, we focus on understanding the influence of the magnitude of the Clapeyron slope (as measured by the Phase Buoyancy parameter, P) and the vigour of convection (as measured by the Rayleigh number, Ra) on mantle convection. We have undertaken 76 simulations of isoviscous mantle convection in spherical geometry, varying Ra and P. Three domains of behaviour were found: layered convection for high Ra and more negative P, whole mantle convection for low Ra and less negative P, and transitional behaviour in an intervening domain. The boundary between the layered and transitional domain was fit by a curve P = α Raβ where α = −1.05, and β = −0.1, and the fit for the boundary between the transitional and whole mantle convection domain was α = −4.8, and β = −0.25. These two curves converge at Ra ≈ 2.5 × 104 (well below Earth mantle vigour) and P ≈ −0.38. Extrapolating to high Ra, which is likely earlier in Earth history, this work suggests a large transitional domain. It is therefore likely that convection in the Archean would have been influenced by this phase change, with Earth being at least in the transitional domain, if not the layered domain.