Department of Mathematics Colloquium

University of Idaho

Spring 2012

Thursday,  February 23, 3:30-4:20 pm, room TLC 032

Refreshments in Brink 305 at 3:00 pm

A Journey into Computational Geodynamics: How Fluid Dynamics + Numerical Simulations + Math = Geology


Catherine M. Cooper

School of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Washington State University


While most envision a geologist as someone who spends most of their time banging on rocks, there is a whole community of Earth scientists who bang on computers to better understand the inner workings of our planet.  Since the dawning of the plate tectonics’ revolution, Earth scientists have been working to connect the physics that dictates convective systems to the geologic observations.  Much of the success of this initiative is due to the development and use of numerical simulations that model convection within the Earth’s interior.  In this presentation, I will showcase the results of both two- and three-dimensional simulations of infinite Prandtl, high Rayleigh number convecting systems with partial insulating lids.  These simulations demonstrate the first order role that continents play in the Earth’s thermal evolution as well as our attempts to unravel and quantify that capacity.

3D convection simulations with two continental blocks

3D convection simulations with two continental blocks