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Image: A.M. Goryaeva (background courtesy B.S.A. Schuberth)

Mantle convection: the atoms behind the flow

Prof Patrick Cordier  |  University of Lille, France

Abstract. Our understanding of the dynamic processes which animate the solid Earth is based nowadays on the concept of plate tectonics. The acceptance of this model has taken time and, about a hundred years ago, when proposing the idea of continental drift, Alfred L. Wegener had to face some difficulties, in particular related to the description of the diving forces and mechanisms which could drive continents.

We know now that, in order to explain those mechanisms, it is necessary to dive into rocks and minerals at the atomic scale to understand how they can deform under extreme pressures and temperatures.

In this lecture, we will see how, based on multiscale numerical modelling of processes from solid-state physics, one can build a bottom-up approach to describe how high-pressure phases of the deep mantle flow at geological timescales.