Properties of oceanic lithosphere: revised plate cooling model predictions

Christopher J. Grose

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    27 Citations (Scopus)


    A new analysis of plate cooling models indicates that the properties of oceanic lithosphere may need to be reevaluated, or that additional phenomena beyond the conditions of simple mineral physics plate models are important. Thermal models with constant and variable mineral physics properties are formally analyzed for fits against recently filtered databases for heat flow and topography. Formalisms are developed for the evaluation of the effective properties of oceanic lithosphere and the treatment of temperature-dependent thermal conductivity and thermal expansivity as both variable and freely adjustable parameters in fitting analysis. Excellent fits to depth and heat flow are resolved for a wide range of models. Good fitting parameterizations reproduce conventional estimates of net surface heat flux (~31.5±1.0TW) while the apparent thermal diffusivity is higher (~1.1±0.1mm²s⁻¹) and apparent thermal expansivity is lower (~2.4×10⁻⁵K⁻¹) than previous reference models. Two preferred reference models, R1 and RT1, are resolved, which are consistent with evidence of mantle temperature and plate thickness, and do not require adjustments to experimental heat transport properties.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)250-264
    Number of pages15
    JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Cooling models
    • Oceanic lithosphere
    • Seafloor heat flow
    • Seafloor subsidence
    • Thermal diffusivity
    • Thermal expansion

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