Inferences of Mantle Viscosity Based on Ice Age Data Sets: The Bias in Radial Viscosity Profiles Due to the Neglect of Laterally Heterogeneous Viscosity Structure

Lau, H. C. P. and Austermann, J. and Mitrovica, J. X. and Crawford, Ophelia and Al-Attar, David and Latychev, K. (2018) Inferences of Mantle Viscosity Based on Ice Age Data Sets: The Bias in Radial Viscosity Profiles Due to the Neglect of Laterally Heterogeneous Viscosity Structure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123 (9). pp. 7237-7252. ISSN 21699313 DOI https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JB015740

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Abstract

Inferences of mantle viscosity using glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) data are hampered by data sensitivity to the space‐time geometry of ice cover. A subset of GIA data is relatively insensitive to this ice history: the Fennoscandian relaxation spectrum (FRS), postglacial decay times in Canada and Scandinavia, and the rate of change of the degree‐2 zonal harmonic of the geopotential ( urn:x-wiley:21699313:media:jgrb53014:jgrb53014-math-0001). These geographically limited data have been inverted to constrain the radial (one‐dimensional [1D]) mantle viscosity profile. We explore potential biases in these 1D inversions introduced by neglecting a three‐dimensional (3D) viscosity structure. We perform 1D Bayesian inversions of synthetic GIA data generated from Earth models with realistic 3D variations in mantle viscosity and lithospheric thickness and compare results to the 1D viscosity profile associated with the 3D model used to generate the synthetics. Differences between these two 1D profiles reflect GIA data resolution and biasing introduced by neglecting, in the inversions, a 3D viscosity structure. We focus on the second issue, demonstrating that the largest bias occurs within the upper mantle (in particular, the transition zone). This remains consistent when varying inversion parameters (e.g., prior/starting models) and the 1D/3D viscosity fields adopted in generating the synthetics. Inversions of individual data sets show 3D biasing increases for data exhibiting shallower (thus more localized) sensitivity to viscosity. Of the data considered herein, inversions of the FRS are subject to the largest bias followed by decay time data. The bias is minimal for urn:x-wiley:21699313:media:jgrb53014:jgrb53014-math-0002, as its deeper sensitivity is accompanied by broader averaging of structure in radial and lateral directions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2018AREP
Subjects: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Divisions: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume: 123
Page Range: pp. 7237-7252
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JB015740
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2018 17:30
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2019 09:41
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/4351

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