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Spohn-[Mantle Differentiation and Thermal Evolution of Mars, Mercury, And Venus]_Icarus90!2!1991_15

Spohn-[Mantle Differentiation and Thermal Evolution of Mars, Mercury, And Venus]_Icarus90!2!1991_15

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ICARUS 90, 222-236 (1991)
Mantle Differentiation and Thermal Evolution of Mars, Mercury,and Venus
TILMAN SPOHN
Westf61ische Wilhehns-Universitdt, lnstitut,ft~r Planetologie, W. Klemmstrasse 10, 1)-4400 Mfinster, Germany
Received January 22, 199(): revised July 24, 1990
Thermal evolution models for the terrestrial planets Mars, Mer-cury, and Venus with core and mantle chemical differentiation,lithosphere growth, and volcanic heat transfer have been calcu-lated. The mantle differentiates by forming a crust and the coredifferentiates by inner core solidification. Continued volcanic activ-ity for billions-of-years is found to be possible even on small terres-trial planets if crust growth is limited by lithosphere growth duringthe early evolution. Later, crust formation may be limited by thedeclining vigor of mantle convection. The thicknesses of the crustand lithosphere are found to depend mainly on planet size, on thebulk concentration of radiogenic elements in the planet, and onthe ratio between volcanic and conductive heat transfer throughthe lithosphere. Two end-member models have been calculatedand the concentration of radiogenics in the planet has been varied.In the first model, heat transfer from the mantle to the surfaceoccurs via heat conduction through the lithosphere, while in thesecond model, mantle heat is advected via volcanic vents. Geologicevidence for volcanism on Mars and Mercury for at least 3.5 Gaand up to 1 Ga, respectively, the absence of a magnetic field onMars, and the presence of such a field on Mercury suggest thatheat transfer in these planets was dominated by heat conductionthrough the lithosphere for most of their thermal history. Thepresent crust of Mercury is estimated to be a few tens of kilometersthick and about 10% of the mantle initial inventory of heat sourcesis fractionated into the crust. The Martian crust may be 50-100km thick, possibly constituting more than a third of the lithosphere.Volcanic heat piping may have been an important heat transfermechanism on Venus and volcanic activity may continue to thepresent day. Venus may have a crust that may constitute almostthe entire lithosphere but crustal thickness may be limited by thebasalt-eclogite phase transformation to 60 to 80 km. It is estimatedthat the present mantles of Mars and Venus are similarly depletedof about 20 to 40% of their initial heat source inventory. , ~99~
Academic Press, Inc.
1. INTRODUCTIONBasaltic rock has been observed on the surfaces ofMars, Venus, and the Moon which show evidence for pastvolcanism [e.g., Basaltic Vokanism Study Project (BVSP)
0019-1035/91 $3.00Copyright © 1991 by Academic Press, Inc.All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
1981]. Like the Earth's crust, the possible basaltic crustsof these terrestrial planets and that of Mercury are likelyto be produced by the differentiation of their mantles.Partial melting of mantle rock, most probably due to de-compression in convective upwellings, produces bouyantmagmatic fluids which intrude near surface layers of rockor extrude on the surface where they crystallize as crustalrock. On Earth, the crust forms a thin layer of a few tens-of-kilometer thickness on top of the lithosphere. It hasbeen speculated that the crusts of Venus and Mars maybe significantly thicker than that of Earth and may consti-tute a larger part of their lithospheres (e.g., Anderson1980, BVSP 1981). On one-plate planets the rheologicallithosphere forms a stagnant lid that overlies the convect-ing mantle. The theological lithosphere is part of thethicker thermal lithosphere. The latter is defined as theconductive outer layer of a planet and comprises the rheo-logical lithosphere and the underlying thermal boundarylayer of the mantle convection. For Earth, the term
litho-sphere
is often associated with the thermal lithosphere.To avoid confusion, I emphasize that the term
lithosphere
in this paper refers to the theological lithosphere. Theradioactive isotopes K, L4°Th, and
256U,
the decay ofwhich is thought to be the primary mode of heat generationin the terrestrial planets, are presumably enriched in themagmas and thus in the crusts because of their large ionicradii and their valence states (Philpotts and Schnetzler,1970). Accordingly, planetary differentiation and crustalgrowth deplete the mantles of heat sources and potentiallyare processes of primary importance to the thermal evolu-tions of the terrestrial planets. As is particularly evidentfor the Earth, however, mantle differentiation is not anirreversible process because crust may be remixed withthe mantle. For one-plate planets, for which plate tecton-ics is not available to remix crust, remixing with the man-tle may be promoted by crustal delamination (e.g., Head1986), for instance.Phillips and Malin (1983) and, recently, Turcotte (1989a)and Schubert
et al.
(1990) have presented models of
 
DIFFERENTIATION AND THERMAL EVOLUTION
223crustal growth and planetary differentiation for Venus andMars. Phillips and Malin (1983) assume a reasonable butotherwise unconstrained exponential growth law for thecrust and a final thickness of the Venusian crust of 10 km.Turcotte (1989a) and Schubert
et al.
(1990) assume thatthe crustal growth and planetary differentiation rates ofboth planets are regulated by the mantle convectionspeed. Mantle convection speed, in turn, is regulated bythe temperature-dependent mantle rheology. These au-thors make the crucial assumption that mantle differentia-tion is irreversible and obtain very rapid crustal growth inthe first few 100 Ma of the thermal evolution of the planetsand very little growth thereafter. This result is at variancewith evidence for continued volcanic activity on Mars forprobably 3.5 Ga or more of its evolution (Neukum andHiller 1981, BVSP 1981, McGill 1989) and possibly pres-ent volcanic activity on Venus (Schaber 1982, Scarf andRussel 1983, Esposito 1984, Head and Wilson 1986). Also,the volcanic plains on Mercury may be as young as thelunar maria or even somewhat younger (e.g., BVSP 1981),which suggests a period of at least some volcanic activityof about I Ga since the accretion of that planet. Moreover,for efficient differentiation, the early crustal thickness ofMars given by Schubert
et al.
(1990) is much larger thanthe early lithosphere thickness calculated recently bySchubert and Spohn (1990) for that planet.It can be argued that the crusts of the terrestrial planetscannot become thicker than their lithospheres and thatcrustal growth rate is limited by lithosphere growth rate.It is conceivable, if not likely, that sublithosphere mantleconvection would remix any extra crustal material under-neath the lithosphere with the mantle. This process maybe helped by the basalt-eclogite phase transformation(e.g., Turcotte 1989b). A similar mechanism of mass re-turn to the planetary interior has been proposed for Ioby O'Reilly and Davies (1981). Recent calculations haveshown that mantle convection is quite effective at mixingchemical heterogeneities (e.g., Hoffman and McKenzie1985, Christensen 1989). Of course, mantle convectionmay become too sluggish to effectively remix the extracrust with the mantle as the planet cools and the mantleviscosity increases. However, mantle differentiationshould also decrease with decreasing convective vigor asthe crustal material removed from the upper mantle mustbe replenished from the lower mantle to keep differentia-tion going.Lithosphere growth may be influenced to some extentby crustal growth through the effect of the latter on theheat production rate in the mantle. Lithosphere growsas the temperature of upper mantle rock falls below thetemperature at which rock begins to flow on geologic timescales as a consequence of the secular cooling of a planet.The growth rate is proportional to the difference betweenthe conductive heat flow across the lithosphere and theconvective heat flow from the sublithospheric mantle intothe lithosphere base (Schubert
et al.
1979, Spohn andSchubert 1982a, 1983). On one-plate planets, conductiveheat transfer across the stagnant lithosphere is a bottle-neck for heat flow from the interior. That bottleneck canbe circumvented to some extent by heat piping throughvolcanism (O'Reilly and Davies 1981, Stevenson andMcNamara 1988, Turcotte 1988, 1989b). Schubert
et al.
(1979) were the first to consider lithosphere growth withthermal evolution models of the terrestrial planets. Theyobtained hundreds-of-kilometers-thick present-day litho-spheres because they neglected heat generation by thedecay of radioactive elements in the mantles of their mod-els. Present-day lithosphere thicknesses between 150 and200 km have been calculated by Schubert
et al.
(1988)for Mercury. For Mars, Schubert and Spohn (1990) havecalculated a present-day lithosphere thickness of about100 km. These lithosphere thicknesses were calculatedby neglecting the effects of mantle differentiation andvolcanic heat transfer.In addition to lithosphere thickness, mantle convectionspeed, and remixing rate, the crustal differentiation rateshould depend on the efficiency of magma generation inthe mantle and on the magma transport rate to the crust.The mantle may also become chemically layered duringdifferentiation. However, mantle chemical layering is be-yond the scope of the present paper which assumes thatthe mantle is differentiated homogeneously. The effi-ciency of magma generation is essentially the ratio be-tween the mantle convection turnover time and the char-acteristic time for crustal fractionation. These quantitiesare difficult to estimate. In this paper, I therefore firstpresent models of the thermal evolutions of the terrestrialplanets Mars, Mercury, and Venus with crustal growthsimply limited by the growth of the lithosphere. Thesemodels inherently assume that the mantle is always wellmixed and that differentiation is so efficient that the entirelithosphere is composed of basalt and that the crust isidentical with the lithosphere. If, as I have argued above,lithosphere growth limits crustal growth and planetarydifferentiation then these models provide crusts of maxi-mum thickness and can be used to discuss the effect ofmantle differentiation on the thermal evolution of theplanet in a maximum limiting case. The effects of heatpiping by volcanic heat transfer on lithosphere thickness,mantle differentiation, and thermal evolution of the largerplanets Mars and Venus are also considered. I then pro-ceed to discuss additional limits placed on the differentia-tion rate by the declining mantle convective vigor and thebasalt-to-eclogite phase transformation and estimate morerealistic present-day crustal thicknesses for the planets. Iargue that lithosphere growth limited crustal growth in theearly evolutions of Mercury and Mars and convectivevigor should have limited crustal growth thereafter. For
 
224
TILMAN SPOHN
Venus, lithosphere growth and the basalt-to-eclogitephase transformation may presently be the limiting mech-anisms. The results together with the evidence from plane-tary geology suggest crustal thicknesses of a few tens ofkilometers for Mercury, 100 km for Mars, and up to 80km for Venus. Accordingly, the mantles of the planets aredepleted of up to 40% of their initial inventory of heatsources.
2. MODEL
I adopt and extend the thermal history model of Steven-son
et al.
(1983) recently extended by Schubert
et al.
(1988) and Schubert and Spohn (1990). In this model, theplanets are initially hot and differentiated into a silicatemantle and an iron-rich core. The initial mantle tempera-ture is subsolidus and the initial core temperature is super-liquidus. The subsequent evolutions of the planets in thismodel consist of simple cooling with increasing mantleviscosity. The model also calculates a detailed core ther-mal evolution with inner core solidification and estimatesof planetary magnetic moment. However, I pay relativelylittle attention to core chemistry, core evolution, and mag-netic field generation in this paper.Heat transfer across the mantle is a main process thatregulates the thermal evolution. The heat transfer rate iscalculated by using a simple Nusseit number-Rayleighnumber relation. The mantle viscosity is assumed homo-geneous and temperature dependent. The temperature de-pendence of the mantle viscosity is an important featureof the present and similar models and regulates mantleheat transfer via a thermostat effect. Although the exactform of the heat transport parameterization differs amongvarious authors, the approach is well established as a wayof calculating thermal evolution models (e.g., Sharpe andPeltier 1979, Schubert
et al.
1979, 1986, Stevenson andTurner 1979, Cook and Turcotte 1981, Spohn and Schu-bert 1982b, Spohn 1984, Peltier 1989). The reader is re-ferred to Stevenson
et al.
(1983) for a detailed descriptionof the model.I first modified the model to allow a calculation of litho-sphere thickness versus time. The equation for litho-sphere thickening, first introduced by Schubert
et al.
(1979), is
dl OT
pmCm( Tu
--
Tl)d-t
=
k-2"-lzoz /
--
Fml
(1)where Pm is mantle density,
C m
is mantle heat capacity,Tu is the temperature in the upper convecting mantle, Tis the temperature defining the base of the lithosphere, /is lithosphere thickness, t is time, k is thermal conductiv-ity, and z is depth. Fmj is the heat flow from the convectingmantle into the lithosphere base. Fm~ is equal to the heatflow from the mantle F m if volcanic heat transfer is ne-glected. ]Fm replaces F~ of Stevenson
et al.
(1983). 1 usethe notation
F m
instead of F~ for mantle heat flow toavoid confusion with surface heat flow.] Equation (!) is anenergy balance equation for the lithosphere base. If thelithosphere thickens by
dl
in time
dt,
then a quantity ofheat
PmCm(Tu -
TOdl
per unit area must be removed fromthe sublithospheric mantle. This cooling is provided bythe difference between the upward conductive heat fluxout of the base of the lithosphere
k(OT/Oz)]z=t
and theupward heat flux from the convecting mantle into thebase of the lithosphere Fml. Equation (1) has been usedpreviously by Schubert
et al.
(1979), Spohn and Schubert(1982a, 1983), Schubert
et al.
(1988), and Schubert andSpohn (1990) to calculate the evolution of lithospherethickness. Equation (1) mathematically resembles the Ste-fan boundary condition for melting and solidification (e.g.,Carslaw and Jaeger 1954).Heat is transferred by heat conduction in the litho-sphere and the top surface is at constant temperature T~.Volcanic heat transfer may bypass the lithosphere andtransfer mantle heat directly to the surface. Depending onthe ratio between mantle heat transferred through thelithosphere and that transferred through volcanic heatpipes, mantle heat flow Fm must be divided between Fm~and the volcanic heat transfer rate. That ratio is difficultto estimate and is likely to vary with time during theevolutions of the planets. Therefore, I consider two end-member models: (1) a conductive lid model, for which Iassume that volcanic heat transfer is negligible and FmL
equals F m ~,
and (2) a heat-pipe model, for which I assumethat mantle heat is entirely transferred by heat piping andthat Fret is zero. The heat conduction equation in thelithosphere is solved with an implicit finite differencescheme.I assume for the present model that the lithosphereis composed entirely of basalt so that the lithosphere isidentical with the crust. For simplicity, I assume that thethermal diffusivity of the mantle and that of the basalticlithosphere are the same. However, the lithosphere isenriched in heat sources as compared with the mantle.The formation of basaltic crust typically requires partialmelting of mantle rock by 10 to 20% which suggests anenrichment of the magma over the mantle by a factor of4 to 5 (BVSP 1981). This is also approximately the ratiobetween the heat generation rate in a typical fresh terres-trial tholeiitic basalt of 2.1 × 10 ~ W kg -~ (BVSP 1981)and an estimate of the Earth mantle heat generation ratethat takes into account the time lag between heat produc-tion and heat flow predicted by most thermal evolutionmodels (e.g., Spohn 1984) and by geochemical data (e.g.,DePaolo 1981). Assuming that the ratio between magmaand mantle heat source densities is constant with time onecan calculate a potential thickness of crust which is thethickness of the crust for an entirely depleted mantle

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