Parameters that control lithospheric-scale thermal localization on terrestrial planets
Article first published online: 14 MAY 2010
Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 37, Issue 9, May 2010
How to Cite
2010), Parameters that control lithospheric-scale thermal localization on terrestrial planets, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L09308, doi:10.1029/2010GL042921., and (
- Issue published online: 14 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 14 MAY 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 APR 2010
- Manuscript Revised: 31 MAR 2010
- Manuscript Received: 16 FEB 2010
- lithospheric thrusting;
- shear heating;
- shear localization
 Shear-heating induced localization has been suggested as a potentially important mechanism for breaking the lithosphere. Yet, the physical parameters that control the onset of this instability remain unclear. We therefore performed systematic 2-D simulations of visco-elasto-plastic lithospheric deformation in which we addressed the effects of various parameters and we found that a sharp transition exists between localizing and non-localizing regimes. In a next step we develop a semi-analytical model that combines scaling laws with a 1-D lithospheric deformation model. We show that the 1-D model successfully predicts the occurrence of shear localization in 2-D models, if the thickness of the plastically deforming part of the (lower) lithosphere is employed as characteristic length-scale. An application of the 1-D model to the terrestrial planets shows that this type of shear-localization is expected to occur most readily on Earth.