101 Geodynamic modelling: How to design, interpret, and communicate numerical studies

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Iris van Zelst , Fabio Crameri , Adina E Pusok , Anne C Glerum , Juliane Dannberg, Cedric Thieulot 


Geodynamic modelling provides a powerful tool to investigate processes in the Earth's crust, mantle, and core that are not directly observable. However, numerical models are inherently subject to the assumptions and simplifications on which they are based. In order to use and review numerical modelling studies appropriately, one needs to be aware of the limitations of geodynamic modelling as well as its advantages. Here, we present a comprehensive, yet concise overview of the geodynamic modelling process applied to the solid Earth, from the choice of governing equations to numerical methods, model setup, model interpretation, and the eventual communication of the model results. We highlight best practices and discuss their implementations including code verification, model validation, internal consistency checks, and software and data management. Thus, with this perspective, we encourage high-quality modelling studies, fair external interpretation, and sensible use of published work. We provide ample examples, from lithosphere and mantle dynamics specifically, and point out synergies with related fields such as seismology, tectonophysics, geology, mineral physics, planetary science and geodesy. We clarify and consolidate terminology across geodynamics and numerical modelling to set a standard for clear communication of modelling studies. All in all, this paper presents the basics of geodynamic modelling for first-time and experienced modellers, collaborators, and reviewers from diverse backgrounds to (re)gain a solid understanding of geodynamic modelling as a whole.




Geophysics and Seismology


numerical modelling, modelling, mantle dynamics, numerics, lithosphere dynamics


Published: 2021-01-27 07:27

Last Updated: 2021-09-24 10:17

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Comment #11 David Whipp @ 2021-02-02 23:57

This is quite a surficial comment as I've not yet read the manuscript, but why not "Geodynamic modelling 101" in the title instead? This would be more consistent with the US university system's course numbering format. I assume the idea is the suggest this is the "basic, introductory course" on geodynamic modelling.