Rheological structure in Mars and its time evolution

Friday, 19 December 2014
Shintaro Azuma, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan and Ikuo Katayama, Hiroshima Univ, Hiroshima, Japan
Mars is one of the terrestrial planets which are composed of rock and metal such as the Earth. There is no water, no life, and no plate tectonics on Mars, suggesting that Mars and Earth followed different evolutionary paths. Rheological structure, which indicates the deformation behavior and the strength of planetary interior, plays an important role in the evolution of planets. The rheological behavior of planetary interiors is strongly sensitive to temperature, which may produce strong rheological layering. Rheological structure of Mars in past must be different from the current rheological structure.

First, the evolutions of temperature profiles in Mars are inferred from the surface heat flow and the heat conduction equation. The surface heat flow of Mars every 1 billion years was calculated from present abundances of the radioactive isotopes (235U, 235U, 232Th, and 40K) and their half-lives (Hahn et al 2011). Based on the temperature profile, we calculate the rheological structure of Mars every 1 billion years using flow-law of plagioclase and olivine. Calculated rheological structure shows that the brittle–ductile transition of present Mars, which is transition of deformation behavior from brittle failure to viscous flow, is deeper as compared with that of past Mars, suggesting that current elastic thickness also becomes thicker than that of past Mars. Under water–saturated conditions, the rheological structure which simulates the northern lowlands shows the strength contrast between the crust and mantle, indicating that the decoupling might occur at the Moho from 4 Ga to present day. Under dry conditions, lithosphere of northern lowlands has no strength contrast at the Moho, implying that crust and mantle might be coupled from 3 Ga to present day. Viscosity contrast between the surface and planetary interior is key for the mantle convection style (Moresi and Solomatov 1995), and the calculated viscosity contrast at present Mars is ~10-5 (Pa), suggesting that Mars must be in the stagnant-lid convection regime. In contrast, the viscosity contrast of Mars from 4 Ga to 3 Ga seems to be ~104 (Pa), suggesting that Mars might have the potential to perform the plate tectonics such as Earth.