Fall 2016 G510/610: Geodynamic Modeling

Syllabus [pdf]

Suggested books

Schubert, Turcotte, and Olson. Mantle Convection in the Earth and Planets. Oxford.

Davies, G. Dynamic Earth: Plates, Plumes, and Mantle Convection. Cambridge.

[Readings Folder] (password required)

Week 1

Resources and Readings

Virtual machine image (12 GB) [Link] (password required)

Installing the virtual machine (on lab computers). [Virtual Machine Installation]

Getting started in Linux [Linux Basics]

Low Re flow [MIT TechTV]


Assignment 1 [pdf] (due Tuesday 10/4)

One idea about how to solve this (using MATLAB to call ASPECT) [files]

Turcotte and Schubert Chapter 6 (helpful for HW)

Davies Sections 3-4

Week 2


OIT will be on hand to troubleshoot virtual machine problems

Brief lecture on spherical harmonics [][matlab demo]

Matlab demo requires MMASS [MMASS on github]

Paper discussion, go over homework

Lecture on mass, momentum, and energy conservation []


Paper Presentations

-Anderson, D. L., and S. D. King (2014), Driving the Earth machine? Science, 346, 1184. (Molly) [slides]

-Burke and Torsvik (2006) (Jiaming)

Assignment 2 [pdf] (due Tuesday 10/11)

Week 3

Lecture on heat transport []

Discussion of HW 2 results

Read Davies Ch. 7, T&S Chapter 4

Assignment 3 [pdf] (due Tuesday 10/18)

Look at '/opt/aspect/tests/depth_dependent_box_function_simple.prm' to see how you might use the depth-dependent material model to introduce the low viscosity layer.

Paper Presentations

-Dziewonski, A. M., V. Lekic, and B. A. Romanowicz (2010), Mantle Anchor Structure: An argument for bottom up tectonics, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 299(1-2), 69–79. (Jon)

Lay, T., J. Hernlund, and B. A. Buffett (2008), Core–mantle boundary heat flow, Nature Geoscience, 1(1), 25–32, doi:10.1038/ngeo.2007.44. (Christina)

Stein, C. A., and S. Stein (1992), A model for the global variation in oceanic depth and heat flow with lithospheric age, Nature. (Devin)

Week 4

Rock rheology lecture (dropbox)

Assignments and Papers

Define Term project by Friday!

Assignment 4 [pdf]

Korenaga (2003). Energetics of mantle convection and the fate of fossil heat. (Molly)

Brown (2014). The contribution of metamorphic petrology to understanding lithosphere evolution and geodynamics. Geoscience Frontiers. (Jiaming)


Marquardt and Miyagi (2014). Marquardt, H., and L. Miyagi (2015), Slab stagnation in the shallow lower mantle linked to an increase in mantle viscosity, Nature Geosci, 8(4), 311–314, doi:10.1038/ngeo2393. (Christina)

King, S. D., D. J. Frost, and D. C. Rubie (2015), Why cold slabs stagnate in the transition zone, Geology, 43(3), 231–234, doi:10.1130/G36320.1 (Devin)

Week 5


Homework 5 [pdf]

Hirth and Kohlstedt. (Jon)

Week 6 - Mixing

Read Tackley's Geochemical Geodynamics chapter from Treatise on Geophysics

Allegre, C. and Turcotte, D. Allegre, C. J., and D. L. Turcotte (1986), Implications of a two-component marble-cake mantle, Nature. (Devin)

Ferrachat, S., and Y. Ricard (1998), Regular vs. chaotic mantle mixing, Earth Planet Sci. Lett., 155(1–2), 75–86, doi:10.1016/S0012-821X(97)00200-8. (Jiaming)

Manga, M. (1996), Mixing of heterogeneities in the mantle: effect of viscosity differences, Geophysical Research Letters. (Molly)

Week 7 - Plates and continents


Gurnis, M. (1988), Large-scale mantle convection and the aggregation and dispersal of supercontinents, Nature, 332, 695–699. (Jon)

STADLER, G., M. Gurnis, C. BURSTEDDE, L. C. Wilcox, L. ALISIC, and O. Ghattas (2010), The Dynamics of Plate Tectonics and Mantle Flow: From Local to Global Scales, Science, 329(5995), 1033–1038, doi:10.1126/science.1191223. (Molly)

Lenardic, A., L. Moresi, A. M. Jellinek, C. J. O'Neill, C. M. Cooper, and C. T. Lee (2011), Continents, supercontinents, mantle thermal mixing, and mantle thermal isolation: Theory, numerical simulations, and laboratory experiments, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 12(10), n/a–n/a, doi:10.1029/2011GC003663. (Christina)

Week 8

Homework [pdf]

Speed-round of 5 planetary geodynamics papers on dropbox!

Week 9

Molnar and England (1990), Late Cenozoic uplift of mountain ranges and global climate change: chicken or egg? Nature 346. (Jiaming)

Raymo, M. and Ruddiman, W.F. (1992), Tectonic Forcing of Late Cenozoic Climate. Nature 359. (Christina)

Li, M., B. Black, S. Zhong, M. Manga, M. L. Rudolph, and P. Olson (2016), Quantifying melt production and degassing rate at mid‐ocean ridges from global mantle convection models with plate motion history, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 17(7), 2884–2904, doi:10.1002/2016GC006439. (Molly)

Courtillot, V., and P. Olson (2007), Mantle plumes link magnetic superchrons to phanerozoic mass depletion events, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 260(3-4), 495–504, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2007.06.003. (Jon)

Austermann, J., D. Pollard, J. X. Mitrovica, R. Moucha, A. M. Forte, R. M. DeConto, D. B. Rowley, and M. E. Raymo (2015), The impact of dynamic topography change on Antarctic ice sheet stability during the mid-Pliocene warm period, Geology, 43(10), 927–930. (Devin)