Diogo Louro Lourenco
Within our Solar System, Earth is the only planet to be in a mobile-lid regime. It is generally accepted that the other terrestrial planets are currently in a stagnant-lid regime, with the possible exception of Venus that may be in an episodic-lid regime. We use numerical simulations to address the question of whether melting-induced crustal production changes the critical yield stress needed to obtain mobile-lid behaviour (plate tectonics). Our results show that melting-induced crustal production strongly influences plate tectonics on Earth-like planets by strongly enhancing the mobility of the lid, replacing a stagnant lid with an episodic lid, or greatly extending the time in which a smoothly evolving mobile lid is present in a planet. Finally, we will show that our results are consistent with analytically predicted critical yield stress obtained with boundary layer theory, whether melting-induced crustal production is considered or not.
Furthermore, we will show 2-D spherical models for the early evolution of Earth from a molten initial stage (magma ocean) after several processes, like the hypothesised Moon-forming impact, melted a substantial part of the mantle. Our approach is to model viscous creep of the solid mantle, while parameterizing processes that involve melt as previously done in 1-D models, including melt-solid separation at all melt fractions, the use of an effective diffusivity to parameterize turbulent mixing, coupling to a parameterized core heat balance and a radiative surface boundary condition. Preliminary results show rapid cooling and crystallization until the rheological transition then much slower crystallization, large-scale overturn well before full solidification, the formation and subduction of an early crust while a partially-molten upper mantle is still present, transitioning to mostly-solid-state long-term mantle convection and plate tectonics or an episodic-lid regime.