The Last Word

Friday, 19 December 2014: 5:45 PM
Don L Anderson, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
Earth is an isolated, cooling planet, that obeys the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Interior dynamics is driven from the top, by cold sinking slabs. High-resolution broad-band seismology and geodesy have confirmed that mantle flow is characterized by narrow downwellings and ~20 broad slowly rising updrafts. The low-velocity zone (LVZ) consists of a hot melange of sheared peridotite intruded with aligned melt-rich lamellae that are tapped by intraplate volcanoes. The high temperature is a simple consequence of the thermal overshoot common in large bodies of convecting fluids. The transition zone consists of ancient eclogite layers that are displaced upwards by slabs to become broad, passive, cool ridge-feeding updrafts of ambient mantle. The physics that is overlooked in canonical models of mantle dynamics and geochemistry includes; the 2nd law of thermodynamics, convective overshoots, subadiabaticity, wave-melt interactions, Archimedes principle, and kinetics. Rapid transitions allow stress-waves to interact with melting and phase changes, creating LVZs; sluggish transitions in cold slabs keep eclogite in the transition zone where it warms up by extracting heat from mantle below 650 km, creating the appearance of slab penetration. Canonical chemical geodynamic models are the exact opposite of physics- and thermodynamic-based models and of the real Earth. A model that results from inverting the assumptions regarding initial and boundary conditions (hot origin, secular cooling, no external power sources, cooling internal boundaries, broad passive upwellings, adiabaticity and whole-mantle convection not imposed, layering and self-organization allowed) results in a thick refractory-yet-fertile surface layer, with ancient xenoliths and cratons at the top and a hot overshoot at the base. A thin mobile D” layer results, that is an unlikely plume-generation zone. Accounting for the physics that is overlooked or violated (the 2nd law of thermodynamics) in canonical models, plus modern seismology, undermines the assumptions and conclusions of these models.