GEOL599: Deep Earth Seminar University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Spring 2009: Mon, 1 – 3pm, Location: ZHS264, 2 units

Instructor: Prof. Thorsten Becker (ZHS269; (213)740-8365; twb -at-

This graduate seminar discusses global, mantle geodynamics topics and takes off thematically where GEOL534, which has focus on the lithosphere, ends. GEOL599 is also complementary to GEOL540, which addresses the numerical solution of geodynamics problems. In Deep Earth, we provide a survey of mantle and core structure, composition, and dynamics and the techniques used to infer those, focusing on seismology inferences, mantle dynamics, and geochemistry.

The class targets graduate students from all Earth science fields, applied math, and engineering and will include reading and in-class discussion of the recent literature and classic papers. We will have some lectures, but predominantly have discussions following up on student presentations of scientific papers. The grade will be based 50% on student presentations, 30% on problem sets and exercises, and 20% on student participation.

Prerequisites: Intro Geophysics (e.g. GEOL440), GEOL534 recommended.

Class topic (some with links to PDF of lecture slides)

Student presentations

General reading

Week 1: 01/12

Organizational meeting

Week 2: 01/19

Martin Luther King day, no meeting

Tackley (2000)

Week 3: 01/26

Thermal state and compositional structure of the Earth and mantle

Jaupart et al. (2007); Ricard (2007)

Week 4: 02/02

Mantle Rheology, fluid dynamics and convection I

Davies and Richards (1990) or Ranalli (1995) sec. 7-8.3

Week 5: 02/09

Mantle Rheology, fluid dynamics and convection II

Seismic discontinuities and mantle structure

Week 6: 02/16

President's day, no meeting

Week 7: 02/23

Rheology and thermal convection

Schmeling (1987); Christensen (1987)

Week 8: 03/02

Mantle tomography

Romanowicz (2003); Boschi & Dziewonski (1999)

Week 9: 03/09

Seismic anisotropy and mantle flow modeling (PDF)

Montagner (2007); Mainprice (2007)


Spring break

Week 10: 03/23

Oceanic lithosphere and subduction dynamics

Zhong et al. (2007), Billen (2008)

Zhong et al. (2007); Becker and Faccenna (2009)

Week 11: 03/30


Week 12: 04/06

Seismic anisotropy and mantle flow modeling (PDF)

Week 13: 04/13

Plumes and hotspots

Ito and van Keken (2007)

Tarduno et al. (2009)

Bercovici (2003)

Week 13: 04/20

Global geodynamics constraints

Week 14:


Attenuation, volatiles, and melt

Hirth and Kohlstedt (2004); Hirschmann (2006)

Thermo-chemical structure in the lower mantle

Lay et al. (2008); Garnero and McNamara (2008);

Garnero (2004, 2007)

Reading assignments (PDF of preprints available from instructor)

Becker, T. W. and Faccenna, C.: A review of the role of subduction dynamics for regional and global plate motions. In press at Int. J. Earth Sci., Subduction Zone Geodynamics, spec. vol., 2009.

Bercovici, D., The generation of plate tectonics from mantle convection, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., (Frontiers) 205, 107-121, 2003.

Billen, M. I. Modeling the dynamics of subducting slabs, Ann. Rev. Earth Planet Sci., 36, 325-356, 2008.

Boschi, L. and Dziewonski, A. High- and low-resolution images of the Earths mantle: Implications of different approaches to tomographic modeling, JGR, 104, 25567-25594, 1999.

Buffett, B. A. Earth's core and the geodynamo. Science, 288:2007-2012, 2000.

Buffett, B. A. Dynamics of the Earth's core, in Earth's Deep Interior: Mineral physics and tomography from the atomic to the global scale. Karato, S. et al. (eds.), Geophys. Mono., 117, AGU, 2000.

Buffett, B. A. Thermal state of Earth's core. Science, 299:1675-1677, 2003.

Christensen, U. R., Convection with pressure- and temperature-dependent non-Newtonian rheology, GJRAS, 77, 343-384, 1984.

Davies, G. F. and M. A. Richards. Mantle convection. J. Geology, 100:151-206, 1992.

Garnero, E. J. A new paradigm for Earth's core-mantle boundary. Science, 304:835-836, 2004.

Garnero, E.J., M.S. Thorne, S. Rost, and A. McNamara, Fine-scale ultra-low velocity zone layering at the core-mantle boundary and superplumes, in Superplumes: Beyond Plate Tectonics (David A. Yuen, Shigenori Maruyama, Shun-ichiro Karato, and Brian F. Windley, Editors), pp. 139-157, Springer Publishing, The Netherlands, 2007.

Garnero, E. J. and A. K. McNamara. Structure and dynamics of the Earth's lower mantle. Science, 320:626-628, 2008.

Grigne, C., S. Labrosse and P. J. Tackley, Convective heat transfer as a function of wavelength: Implications for the cooling of the Earth, J. Geophys. Res., 110, B3, B03409, doi:10.1029/2004JB003376.

Hirschmann, M. H. Water, melting, and the deep Earth H2O cycle. Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 34:629-653, 2006.

Hirth, G. and D. L. Kohlstedt. Rheology of the upper mantle and the mantle wedge: A view from the experimentalists. In J. Eiler, editor, Inside the Subduction Factory, volume 138 of Geophysical Monograph, pages 83-105. American Geophysical Union, Washington, 2005.

Ito, G. and P. E. van Keken. Hotspots and melting anomalies. In G. Schubert and D. Bercovici, editors, Treatise on Geophysics. Elsevier, 2007.

Jaupart, C. and Labrosse, S. and Marechal, J.-C. Temperatures, heat and energy in the mantle of the Earth, In Treatise on Geophysics, Elsevier, Schubert, G. and Bercovici, D. (eds), 253-303, 2007.

Korenaga, J. Urey ratio and the structure and evolution of Earth's mantle. Rev. Geophys., 46, 2008.

Mainprice, D. Seismic anisotropy of the deep Earth from a mineral and rock physics perspective. In G. Schubert and D. Bercovici, editors, Treatise on Geophysics, volume 2, 437-491. Elsevier, 2007.

Montagner, J.P. Upper mantle structure: Global isotropic and anisotropic elastic tomography. In G. Schubert and D. Bercovici, editors, Treatise on Geophysics, volume 1, 559-589. Elsevier, 2007.

Romanowicz, B., Global mantle tomography: Proress status in the last 10 years, Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 31, 303-328, 2003.

Ricard, Y. Physics of mantle convection. In G. Schubert and D. Bercovici, (eds), Treatise on Geophysics. Elsevier, 2007.

Schmeling, H. On the interaction between small- and large-scale convection and postglacial rebound flow in a power-law mantle, EPSL, 84, 254-262, 1987.

Tackley, P.J., Mantle convection and plate tectonics: Towards an integrated physical and chemical theory, Science, 288, 2002-2007, 2000.

Tackley, P. J., Mantle Geochemical Geodynamics, in Treatise on Geophysics Volume 7: Mantle Dynamics, ed. D. Bercovici and G. Schubert, Elsevier, 437-505, 2007.

Lay, T., Hernlund, J., and Buffett, B., Core–mantle boundary heat flow, Nature Geoscience 1, 25 – 32, 2008.

Zhong, S. J., M. Ritzwoller, N. Shapiro, W. Landuyt, J. Huang, P. Wessel, Bathymetry of the Pacific Plate and its implications for thermal evolution of lithosphere and mantle dynamics, J. Geophys. Res., 112, B06412, doi:10.1029/2006JB004628, 2007.

Textbooks (none required, first two strongly recommended, first four certainly good buys for geodynamicists):

  1. Turcotte, D. and Schubert, G. Geodynamics. Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2001. (Update of a classic, standard text.)

  2. Ranalli, G. Rheology of the Earth. Chapman & Hall, 1995. (Somewhat out of date but highly useful, PDF may be available.)

  3. Schubert, G. Turcotte, D. and Olson, P.: Mantle convection in the Earth and Planets, Cambridge University Press, 2001. (More comprehensive treatment of convection with all equations you'll ever need.)

  4. Davies, G. F., Dynamic Earth: Plates, plumes, mantle convection, Cambridge University Press, 1999. (Nice narrative of one of the traditional views on mantle dynamics.)

  5. Malvern, L. E., Introduction to the mechanics of a continuous medium, Prentice Hall, Inc., 1969. (Classic continuum mechanics text, very useful for more comprehensive background reading.)

  6. Rogers, N. (ed). An Introduction to our Dynamic Planet, Cambridge University Press, 2008. (A unique, undergraduate text that provides a compelling interdisciplinary treatment of geodynamics.)

  7. Karato, S.-i., Deformation of Earth Materials, Cambridge University Press, 2008. (Somewhat of an update of Ranalli with a slightly different angle.)

  8. Kennett, B. and Bunge, H.-P., Geophysical continua, Cambridge University Press, 2008. (Attempt to treat all mantle and core dynamics including seismology in one framework.)

Disability notice

Students requesting academic accommodations based on a disability are required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP when adequate documentation is filed. Please be sure the letter is delivered to us (or to your TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is open Monday Friday, 8:30 5:00. The office is in Student Union 301 and the phone number is (213) 740 0776.: