Inference of mantle viscosity for depth resolutions of GIA observations

Masao Nakada, Jun'ichi Okuno

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Inference of the mantle viscosity from observations for glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) process has usually been conducted through the analyses based on the simple three-layer viscosity model characterized by lithospheric thickness, upper- and lower-mantle viscosities. Here, we examine the viscosity structures for the simple three-layer viscosity model and also for the two-layer lower-mantle viscosity model defined by viscosities of η670,D (670-D km depth) and ηD,2891 (D-2891 km depth) with D-values of 1191, 1691 and 2191 km. The upper-mantle rheological parameters for the two-layer lower-mantle viscosity model are the same as those for the simple three-layer one. For the simple three-layer viscosity model, rate of change of degree-two zonal harmonics of geopotential due to GIA process (GIA-induced J˙2) of -(6.0-6.5) × 10-11 yr-1 provides two permissible viscosity solutions for the lower mantle, (7-20) × 1021 and (5-9) × 1022 Pa s, and the analyses with observational constraints of the J2 and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) sea levels at Barbados and Bonaparte Gulf indicate (5-9) × 1022 Pa s for the lower mantle. However, the analyses for the J˙2 based on the two-layer lower-mantle viscosity model only require a viscosity layer higher than (5-10) × 1021 Pa s for a depth above the core-mantle boundary (CMB), in which the value of (5-10) × 1021 Pa s corresponds to the solution of (7-20) × 1021 Pa s for the simple three-layer one. Moreover, the analyses with the J˙2 and LGM sea level constraints for the two-layer lower-mantle viscosity model indicate two viscosity solutions: η670,1191 > 3 × 1021 and η1191,2891 ~ (5-10) × 1022 Pa s, and η670,1691 > 1022 and η1691,2891 ~ (5-10) × 1022 Pa s. The inferred upper-mantle viscosity for such solutions is (1-4) × 1020 Pa s similar to the estimate for the simple three-layer viscosity model. That is, these analyses require a high viscosity layer of (5-10) × 1022 Pa s at least in the deep mantle, and suggest that the GIA-based lower-mantle viscosity structure should be treated carefully in discussing the mantle dynamics related to the viscosity jump at ~670 km depth. We also preliminarily put additional constraints on these viscosity solutions by examining typical relative sea level (RSL) changes used to infer the lower-mantle viscosity. The viscosity solution inferred from the far-field RSL changes in the Australian region is consistent with those for the J˙2 and LGM sea levels, and the analyses for RSL changes at Southport and Bermuda in the intermediate region for the North American ice sheets suggest the solution of η670,D > 1022, ηD,2891 ~ (5-10) × 1022 Pa s (D = 1191 or 1691 km) and upper-mantle viscosity higher than 6 × 1020 Pa s.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberggw301
Pages (from-to)719-740
Number of pages22
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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