Inferences of mantle viscosity based on ice age data sets: Radial structure

Lau, Harriet C. P. and Mitrovica, Jerry X. and Austermann, Jacqueline and Crawford, Ophelia and Al-Attar, David and Latychev, Konstantin (2016) Inferences of mantle viscosity based on ice age data sets: Radial structure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121 (10). 2016JB013043. ISSN 2156-2202 eissn 2169-9313 DOI 10.1002/2016JB013043

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Abstract

We perform joint nonlinear inversions of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) data, including the following: postglacial decay times in Canada and Scandinavia, the Fennoscandian relaxation spectrum (FRS), late-Holocene differential sea level (DSL) highstands (based on recent compilations of Australian sea level histories), and the rate of change of the degree 2 zonal harmonic of the geopotential, J2. Resolving power analyses demonstrate the following: (1) the FRS constrains mean upper mantle viscosity to be ∼3 × 1020 Pa s, (2) postglacial decay time data require the average viscosity in the top ∼1500 km of the mantle to be 1021 Pa s, and (3) the J2 datum constrains mean lower mantle viscosity to be ∼5 × 1021 Pa s. To reconcile (2) and (3), viscosity must increase to 1022–1023 Pa s in the deep mantle. Our analysis highlights the importance of accurately correcting the J2 observation for modern glacier melting in order to robustly infer deep mantle viscosity. We also perform a large series of forward calculations to investigate the compatibility of the GIA data sets with a viscosity jump within the lower mantle, as suggested by geodynamic and seismic studies, and conclude that the GIA data may accommodate a sharp jump of 1–2 orders of magnitude in viscosity across a boundary placed in a depth range of 1000–1700 km but does not require such a feature. Finally, we find that no 1-D viscosity profile appears capable of simultaneously reconciling the DSL highstand data and suggest that this discord is likely due to laterally heterogeneous mantle viscosity, an issue we explore in a companion study.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2016AREP; IA71;
Subjects: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Divisions: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
08 - Green Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume: 121
Page Range: 2016JB013043
Identification Number: 10.1002/2016JB013043
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2017 14:55
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2017 11:54
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/3814

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