Can a sinking metallic diapir generate a dynamo?

Research areas:
Year:
2012
Authors:
  • Julien Monteux
  • Nathanael Schaeffer
  • Hagay Amit
  • Philippe Cardin
Journal:
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS
Volume:
117
Month:
OCT 10
ISSN:
0148-0227
BibTex:
Abstract:
Metallic diapirs may have strongly contributed to core formations during the first million years of planetary evolutions. The aim of this study is to determine whether the dynamics induced by the diapir sinking can drive a dynamo and to characterize the required conditions on the size of the diapir, the mantle viscosity and the planetary latitude at which the diapir sinks. We impose a classical Hadamard flow solution for the motion at the interface between a spherical sinking diapir and a viscous mantle on dynamical simulations that account for rotational and inertial effects in order to model the flow within the diapir. The flows are confined to a velocity layer with a thickness that decreases with increasing rotation rate. These 3D flows are is then used as input for kinematic dynamo simulations to determine the critical magnetic Reynolds number for dynamo onset. Our results demonstrate that the flow pattern inside a diapir sinking into a rotating planet can generate a magnetic field. Large diapirs ( R > 10 km) sinking in a mantle with a viscosity ranging from 10(9) to 10(14) Pa. s provide plausible conditions for a dynamo. Equatorial sinking diapirs are confined to a thicker velocity layer and are thus possibly more favorable for dynamo generation than polar sinking diapirs. In addition equatorial sinking diapirs produce stronger saturated magnetic fields. However, for the range of parameters studied here, estimation of the intensity of diapir-driven magnetic fields suggests that they could not have contributed to the lunar or Martian crustal paleomagnetic fields.