ELEFANT: a user-friendly multipurpose geodynamics code
Abstract. A new finite element code for the solution of the Stokes and heat transport equations is presented. It has purposely been designed to address geological flow problems in two and three dimensions at crustal and lithospheric scales. The code relies on the Marker-in-Cell technique and Lagrangian markers are used to track materials in the simulation domain which allows recording of the integrated history of deformation; their (number) density is variable and dynamically adapted. A variety of rheologies has been implemented including nonlinear thermally activated dislocation and diffusion creep and brittle (or plastic) frictional models. The code is built on the Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian kinematic description: the computational grid deforms vertically and allows for a true free surface while the computational domain remains of constant width in the horizontal direction. The solution to the large system of algebraic equations resulting from the finite element discretisation and linearisation of the set of coupled partial differential equations to be solved is obtained by means of the efficient parallel direct solver MUMPS whose performance is thoroughly tested, or by means of the WISMP and AGMG iterative solvers. The code accuracy is assessed by means of many geodynamically relevant benchmark experiments which highlight specific features or algorithms, e.g., the implementation of the free surface stabilisation algorithm, the (visco-)plastic rheology implementation, the temperature advection, the capacity of the code to handle large viscosity contrasts. A two-dimensional application to salt tectonics presented as case study illustrates the potential of the code to model large scale high resolution thermo-mechanically coupled free surface flows.
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