Mantle Viscosity: What are We Exactly Looking for?

  • L. A. Lliboutry
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 334)


Any rheological law must obey the principles of local action, objectivity, and macroscopic determinism, with possible hidden intrinsic variables, as are the lapse of time since loading or unloading, or the past load. Among ten different microscopic processes of creep that are reviewed, non-linear creep by motion of dislocations with dynamic recrystallization is the most plausible. It includes transient creep, that has been studied in rock ice: Andrade’s creep on loading, and reverse logarithmic creep on unloading. Only part of the extra strain on loading is recoverable. After a change in one component of stress, transient creep is observed on all the components. Similarly, the mantle should not be a linear visco-elastic body. When it is modelled as such, the analyses of isostatic adjustments allow to determine apparent visco-elastic parameters at a given instant, but they change with time and have no predictive value.


Slip System Deviatoric Stress Simple Shear Lower Mantle Mantle Convection 
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A good short introduction to the subject might be:

  1. Weertman, J. (1978) ‘Creep laws for the mantle of the Earth’, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. London A, 288, 9–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

The extensive literature on the subject is quoted in:

  1. Lliboutry, L. (1987) Very slow flows of solids, Kluwer Acad. Publishers, Dordrecht.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Peltier, W.R. (1982) ‘Dynamics of ice age Earth’, Adv. Geophys., 24, 1–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Peltier, W.R. ed. (1989) Mantle convection, plate tectonics and global dynamics, Gordon and Breach Sci. Publ., New York.Google Scholar

The main recent articles on creep laws and processes in ice are:

  1. Ashby, M.F. and Duval, P. (1985) ‘The creep of polycrystalline ice’, Cold Regions Sci. Tech., 11, 285–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  5. Ignat, M. and Frost, M.J. (1987) ‘Grain boundary sliding in ice’, J. de Physique, 48, C1.189–C1.195.Google Scholar
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  7. Lliboutry, L. (1987) Very slow flows of solids, Kluwer Acad. Publ., Dordrecht, p. 112–129 and 433–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lliboutry, L. and Duval, P. (1985) ‘Various isotropic and anisotropic ices found in glaciers and polar ice caps and their corresponding Theologies’, Ann. Geophysicae, 3, 207–224.Google Scholar
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Other quoted papers:

  1. Means, W.D. and Jessel, M.W. (1986) ‘Accomodation migration of grain boundaries’, Tectonophysics, 127, 67–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Mitrovica, J.X. and Peltier, W.R. (1989) ‘Pleistocene deglaciation and the global gravity field’, J. Geophys. Res., 94, 13651–13671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Poirier, J.P., Peyronneau, J., Gesland, J.Y. and Brebec, G. (1983), ‘Viscosity and conductivity of the lower mantle; an experimental study on a MgSiO3 perovskite analogue, KZnF3’, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 32, 273–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Lliboutry
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’EnvironnementFrance

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