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GGAM PhD Exit Seminar: On the Design, Implementation, and Use of a Volume-of-Fluid Interface Tracking Algorithm For Modeling Convection and other Processes in the Earth's Mantle

Special Events

Speaker: Jonathan Robey
Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Tue, Sep 24 2019, 3:10PM

Problems involving plate tectonics, and in particular subducting slabs, are among the most important problems in geodynamics and the Earth Sciences. Subduction is a geological process that takes place at convergent boundaries of tectonic plates where one plate moves under another and is forced to sink due
to gravity into the mantle. An excellent example is at the coastline of Peru and Chile, where the ongoing subduction, along the Peru–Chile Trench, of the Nazca Plate under the South American Plate is largely responsible for the Andean mountain range as well as extremely destructive earthquakes.
Consequently, accurate mathematical models of subducting slabs and the numerical computation of these models are extremely important.


In this seminar I will present computations of a model of a subducting slabusing new numerical methodology that I have developed for tracking the interface between the two portions of a subducting slab into the surrounding mantle which lies beneath an overriding tectonic plate.


This new interface tracking algortihm is the first methodology for tracking interfaces that has been developed and is now available to computational geoscientists through the freely available open source code ASPECT, which is designed to study plate tectonics and other processes that occur from the
surface of the Earth to the core-mantle boundary.
I will describe the interface tracking algorithm in some detail and discuss various important factors one must consider such as the mesh refinement strategy, (e.g., the size of the mesh necessary along the interface in order to avoid numerical artifacts), how to choose a mesh resolution that will capture
the phenomena of interest, and where efficiency may be gained by adjusting the minimum refinement level of the interface that is being tracked.