Journal Article

Rheology of the Earth and a thermoconvective mechanism for sedimentary basin formation

Boris I. Birger

in Geophysical Journal International

Volume 134, issue 1, pages 1-12
Published in print July 1998 | ISSN: 0956-540X
Published online July 1998 | e-ISSN: 1365-246X | DOI:
Rheology of the Earth and a thermoconvective mechanism for sedimentary basin formation

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A power-law non-Newtonian fluid is usually assumed to model slow flows in the mantle and, in particular, convective flows. However, the power-law fluid has no memory, in contrast to a real material. A new non-linear integral (having a memory) model is proposed to describe the rheology of rocks. The model is consistent with the theory of simple fluids with fading memory and with laboratory studies of rock creep. The proposed model reduces to the power-law fluid model for stationary flows and to the Andrade model for flows associated with small strains. Stationary convection beneath continents has been studied by Fleitout & Yuen (1984), who used the power-law fluid model and obtained the cold immobile boundary layer (continental lithosphere). In a stability analysis of this layer, the Andrade model must be used. The analysis shows that the lithosphere is overstable (the period of oscillation is about 200 Ma). In the present study, it is suggested that these thermoconvective oscillations of the lithosphere are a mechanism for sedimentary basin formation. The vertical crustal movement in sedimentary basins can be considered as a slow subsidence on which small-amplitude oscillations are superimposed. The longest period of oscillatory crustal movement is of the same order of magnitude as the period of convective oscillation of the lithosphere found in the stability analysis. Taking into account the difference between depositional and erosional transport rates we can explain the permanent subsidence as well as the oscillations.

Keywords: mantle rheology; sedimentary basins; thermal convection

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Geophysics

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