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Seafloor topography and the thermal budget of Earth

Jun Korenaga
Jun Korenaga
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8109, USA
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October 01, 2015

The subsidence of an aging seafloor starts to slow down at ~70 m.y. old with respect to that expected from simple half-space cooling, and this phenomenon has long been known as seafloor flattening. The flattening signal remains even after removal of the influence of the emplacement of hotspot islands and oceanic plateaus. The combination of small-scale convection and radiogenic heating has been suggested as a mechanism to explain seafloor flattening, and this study explores the possibility of using the magnitude of seafloor flattening to constrain the amount of radiogenic heating in the convecting mantle. By comparison of properly scaled geodynamic expectations with the observed age-depth relation of the normal seafloor, the mantle heat production is estimated to be ~12 ± 3 TW, which supports geochemistry-based estimates. A widely held notion that small-scale convection enhances cooling, thus being unable to explain seafloor flattening, is suggested to be incorrect. The ability to accurately interpret the age-depth relation of seafloor based on the thermal budget of Earth has an important bearing on the future theoretical study of early Earth evolution.

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GSA Special Papers

The Interdisciplinary Earth: A Volume in Honor of Don L. Anderson

Gillian R. Foulger
Gillian R. Foulger
Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
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Michele Lustrino
Michele Lustrino
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Universita` degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, P.le A. Moro, 5, 00185 Roma, Italy
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Scott D. King
Scott D. King
Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
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Geological Society of America
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Publication date:
October 01, 2015



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