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 Mantle Geotherms and Adiabats

The thermal structure of the upper mantle is dominated by the large tem perature gradients in the lithosphere. The thermal structure of the oceanic lithosphere was determined in Sections 4–16 and 4–17; the temperature–depth relation is given in Equation (4–125) or Equation (4–130). A representative geotherm for the oceanic lithosphere was plotted in Figure 4–27 for t = 60.4 Myr, T1−T0 = 1300 K, and κ = 1 mm2 s−1. The thermal structure of stable continental crust was determined.

Beneath the thermal boundary layer that defines the lithosphere, heat transport is primarily by convection. Details of this convection and the creep mechanisms responsible for the fluidlike behavior of hot, solid mantle rock are discussed in later chapters. For our purposes it is sufficient to know that in the interior of a vigorously convecting fluid the mean temperature increases with depth approximately along an adiabat. The adiabatic temperature gradient in the mantle is the rate of increase of temperature with depth as a result of compression of the rock by the weight of the overlying material. If an element of material is compressed and reduced in volume by increasing pressure, it will also be heated as a result of the work done by the pressure forces during the compression. If there is no transfer of heat into or out of the element during this process, the compression is said to be adiabatic, and the associated temperature rise is the adiabatic increase in temperature.

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