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Some surface expressions of mantle convective instabilities

Abstract : Earth's lithosphere, which is the upper boundary layer of mantle convection, represents the interface between the external and internal envelopes of our Planet. The multiple interactions between the mantle and lithosphere generate lateral (plate tectonics) and vertical (dynamic topography) deformations of Earth's surface. Understanding the influence of the dynamics of mantle convective instabilities on the surface is fundamental to improve our interpretations of a large range of surface observations, such as the formation of sedimentary basins, continental motions, the location of hotspots, the presence of gravity anomalies or sea-level variations.This thesis aims at developing numerical models of whole-mantle convection self-generating plate-like tectonics in order to study the impacts of the development and the dynamics of mantle convective instabilities (such as slabs or mantle plumes) on the continuous reshaping of the surface.First, I focus on the influence of the coupling between mantle convective motions and plate tectonics on the development of dynamic topography (i.e. surface vertical deformations induced by mantle convection) at different spatial and temporal scales. The results suggest that Earth's surface can deform over large spatial scales (> 104 km) induced by whole-mantle convection to small-scales (< 500 km) arising from small-scale sub-lithospheric convection. The temporal variations of dynamic topography range between five and several hundreds of millions of years depending on the convective instabilities from which they originate. In particular, subduction initiation and slab break-off events control the existence of intermediate scales of dynamic topography (between 500 and 104 km). This reflects that the interplay between mantle convection and lithosphere dynamics generates complex spatial and temporal patterns of dynamic topography consistent with constraints for Earth.A second aim of this thesis is to understand the dynamics of mantle plumes and their interactionswith surface. I first characterize in detail the behaviour of mantle plumes arising in models ofwhole-mantle convection self-generating plate-like tectonics, in light of surface observations. Then, I study how the interactions between surface plate tectonics and mantle convection affect plume motions. Finally, I use observations of the thermal signature of plume/ridge interactions to propose a reconstruction of the relative motions between the Azores mantle plume and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
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Maëlis Arnould. Some surface expressions of mantle convective instabilities. Earth Sciences. Université de Lyon, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018LYSEN036⟩. ⟨tel-01974445⟩

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