Thermal and magnetic evolution of a crystallizing basal magma ocean in Earths mantle

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Nicolas Blanc, Dave Stegman, Leah B. Ziegler


We present the thermochemical evolution of a downward crystallizing BMO overlying the liquid outer core and probe its capability to dissipate enough power to generate and sustain an early dynamo. A total of 61 out of 112 scenarios for a BMO with imposed, present-day $Q_{BMO}$ values of 15, 18, and 21 TW and $Q_r$ values of 4, 8, and 12 TW fully crystallized during the age of the Earth. Most of these models are energetically capable of inducing magnetic activity for the first 1.5 Gyrs, at least, with durations extending to 2.5 Gyrs; with final CMB temperatures of 4400 $\pm$ 500 K --well within current best estimates for inferred temperatures. None of the models with $Q_{BMO}$ = 12 TW achieved a fully crystallized state, which may reflect a lower bound on the present-day heat flux across the CMB. BMO-powered dynamos exhibit strong dependence on the partition coefficient of iron into the liquid layer and its associated melting-point depression for a lower mantle composition at near-CMB conditions --parameters which are poorly constrained to date. Nonetheless, we show that a crystallizing BMO is a plausible mechanism to sustain an early magnetic field.



Earth Sciences, Geophysics and Seismology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Planetary Geophysics and Seismology, Planetary Sciences


Basal magma ocean dynamo, Early Earth dynamo, Molten silicates


Published: 2019-10-01 10:12

Last Updated: 2019-10-29 14:31

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