Previous studies of the wander of the rotation pole associated with the Late Pleistocene glacial cycles indicate that the predicted polar wander speed is sensitive to the density jump at the 670 km discontinuity, the thickness of the elastic lithosphere, and the lower mantle viscosity. In particular, the M1 mode related to the density jump at 670 km depth has been shown to contribute a dominant portion of predicted polar wander speed for sufficiently small lower mantle viscosities. In this study, we examine the sensitivity of polar wander to variations in the viscosity of the viscoelastic lithosphere using simplified compressible Maxwell viscoelastic earth models. Model calculations for earth models with a viscoelastic lithosphere of finite viscosity indicate that the contribution of the M1 mode is similar to those associated with the density discontinuity at the core-mantle boundary (C0 mode) and the lithosphere (L0 mode). We speculate that this is due to the interaction between the M1 mode and the transient mode associated with the viscoelastic lithosphere, which reduces the magnitude of polar wander rates. Therefore, the M1 mode does not contribute a dominant portion of the predicted polar wander speed for earth models with a viscoelastic lithosphere of finite viscosity. In this case, predictions of polar wander speed as a function of lower mantle viscosity exhibit the qualitative form of an 'inverted parabola', as predicted for the J2 curve. We caution, however, that these results are obtained for simplified earth models, and the results for seismological earth models such as PREM may be complicated by the interaction between the M1 mode and the large set of transient modes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology