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Viscosity of the Martian mantle and its initial temperature: Constraints from crust formation history and the evolution of the magnetic field

Breuer, D. and Spohn, T. (2006) Viscosity of the Martian mantle and its initial temperature: Constraints from crust formation history and the evolution of the magnetic field. Planetary and Space Science, 54 (2), pp. 153-169. DOI: doi:10.1016/j.pss.2005.08.008. ISSN 0032-0633.

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Abstract

The rheology of the Martian mantle and the planet’s initial temperature is constrained with thermal evolution models that include crust growth and test the conditions for magnetic field generation in the core. As observations we use the present-day average crustal thickness of 50–120km as estimated from the Mars Global Surveyor gravity and topography data, the evidence for the crust being produced mostly early, with a rate declining from the Noachian to the Hesperian, and the evidence for an early magnetic field that likely existed for less than a billion years. We use the fact that the rate of crust growth is a function of temperature, which must be above the solidus in the sub-lithosphere mantle, and the mantle convection speed because the latter determines the rate at which melt can be replenished. The convection speed is a strong function of viscosity which, in turn, is a strong function of temperature and also of the water content of the mantle. We use a viscosity parameterization with a reference viscosity evaluated at 1600K the value of which can be characteristic of either a dry or a wet mantle. We further consider the Fe–FeS phase diagram for the core and compare the core liquidus estimated for a sulphur content of 14% as suggested by the SNC meteorite compositions with the core temperatures calculated for our cooling models. Two data sets of the Fe–FeS eutectic temperature have been used that differ by about 200K [Böhler, R., 1996. Fe–FeS eutectic temperatures at 620 kbar. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 96, 181–186; Fei, Y., Bertka, C.M., Finger, L.W., 1997. High-pressure iron–sulphur compound, Fe3S2, and melting relations in the Fe–FeS system. Science 275, 1621–1623] at Martian core–mantle boundary pressure and in the eutectic composition by 5 wt%. The differences in eutectic temperature and composition translate into a difference of about 400K in liquidus temperature for 14 wt% sulphur. We find it premature to rule out specific mantle rheologies on the basis of the presently available crustal thickness and crust growth evidence. Rather a trade-off exists between the initial mantle temperature and the reference viscosity. Both a wet mantle rheology with a reference viscosity less than 10<sup>20</sup> Pas and a dry mantle rheology with a reference viscosity of 10<sup>21</sup> Pas or more can be acceptable if initial mantle temperatures between roughly 1700 and 2000K are allowed. To explain the magnetic field history, the differences in liquidus temperatures matter. For a liquidus temperature of about 1900K at the Martian core–mantle boundary as calculated from the Böhler et al. eutectic, a dry mantle rheology can best explain the lack of a present-day dynamo. For a liquidus temperature of about 1500K at the core–mantle boundary as calculated from the Fei et al. eutectic all models are consistent with the observed lack of dynamo action. The reason lies with the fact that at 14wt%S the Martian core would be close to the eutectic composition if the Fei et al. data are correct. As inner core growth is unlikely for an almost eutectic core, the early field would have been generated by a thermally driven dynamo. Together with the measured strength of the Martian crustal magnetization this would prove the feasibility of a strong thermally driven dynamo.

Document Type:Article
Title:Viscosity of the Martian mantle and its initial temperature: Constraints from crust formation history and the evolution of the magnetic field
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Breuer, D.UNSPECIFIED
Spohn, T.UNSPECIFIED
Date:February 2006
Journal or Publication Title:Planetary and Space Science
Refereed publication:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:54
DOI:doi:10.1016/j.pss.2005.08.008
Page Range:pp. 153-169
ISSN:0032-0633
Status:Published
Keywords:Mars, planetary interior, thermal evolution, core composition
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Vorhaben Vergleichende Planetologie (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Physics
Deposited By: Nils Müller
Deposited On:01 Mar 2006
Last Modified:27 Apr 2009 04:44

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