Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Viscous Relaxation and Early Planetary Evolution


  • P. Surdas Mohit

    1. Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif.
    2. Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
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Through observation and modeling, a great deal has been learned about the viscosity structure of the Earth and its influence on such processes as plate tectonics, mantle convection, postglacial rebound, and continental uplift. In particular, it has been shown that where the crust is unusually thick and/or warm, the lower crust is able to flow to relax stresses produced by crustal thickness variations and crustal extension or shortening [e.g., McKenzie et al., 2000]. Viscous relaxation models have been applied to other planets since the 1960s, and the results show that some large impact basins may have formed in the presence of a warm, ductile lower crust [e.g., Solomon et al., 1982].