The paper is a synthesis of models for basic geodynamic processes (spreading, subduction transient into collision, mantle plumes) in relation with the Earth’s evolution and regularly changing geodynamic parameters. The main trends and milestones of this evolution record irreversible cooling of the Earth’s interior, oxidation of the surface, and periodic changes in geodynamic processes. The periodicity consists of cycles of three characteristic sizes, namely 700–800 Myr global cycles, 120, 90, and 30 Myr smaller cycles, and short-period millennial to decadal oscillations controlled by changing Earth’s orbital parameters and, possibly, also by other extraterrestrial factors. Major events and estimates of mantle and surface temperatures, heat flow, viscosity, and the respective regimes of convection and plume magmatism have been reported for the largest periods of the Earth’s history: Hadean (4.6–3.9 Ga), Early Archean (3.9–3.3 Ga), Late Archean (3.3–2.6 Ga), Early Proterozoic (2.6–1.9 Ga), Middle Proterozoic (1.9–1.1 Ga), Neoproterozoic (1.1–0.6 Ga), and Phanerozoic with two substages of 0.6–0.3 and 0.3–0 Ga.
Current geodynamics is discussed with reference to models of spreading, subduction, and plume activity. Spreading is considered in terms of double-layered mantle convection, with focus on processes in the vicinity of mid-ocean ridges. The problem of mafic melt migration through the upper mantle beneath spreading ridges is treated qualitatively. Main emphasis is placed on models of melting, comparison of experimental and observed melt compositions, and their variations in periods of magmatic activity (about 100 kyr long) and quiescence. The extent and ways of interaction of fluids and melts rising from subduction zones with the ambient mantle remain the most controversial. Plume magmatism is described with a “gas torch” model of thermochemical plumes generated at the core-mantle boundary due to local chemical doping with volatiles (H2, CH2, KH, etc.) which are released from the metallic outer core, become oxidized in the lower mantle, and decrease the melting point of the latter. The concluding section concerns periodicities in endogenous processes and their surface consequences, including the related biospheric evolution.