On the gravitational potential of the Earth's lithosphere

D. D. Coblentz, Randall Richardson, M. Sandiford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The mean potential energy of the lithosphere Ūlg is useful for defining the tectonic reference state (TRS) of the Earth and can be used to constrain the ambient state of stress in the plates. The difference between the potential energy of the lithospheric column and the TRS determines whether the column is in an extensional, neutral, or compressional state of stress. Ūlg and intraplate variations about this mean are evaluated, using a simple, first-order lithospheric density model. With the exception of Eurasia, which has anomalously high mean potential energy, the mean potential energies of the continental plates are nearly identical to the global mean Ūlg. The mean potential of the oceanic plates was found to be a strong function of the mean age of the oceanic lithosphere. Both the global and plate mean potential energies are relatively insensitive to a wide range in ρc. The importance of the potential energy formulation is substantiated by the strong correlation between the torque poles associated with the potential energy distributions and the observed plate velocity poles for the South American, Nazca, Indo-Australian, and Pacific plates. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-945
Number of pages17
JournalTectonics
Volume13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Potential energy
potential energy
lithosphere
gravitational fields
Earth (planet)
Tectonics
Poles
tectonics
poles
Australian plate
Pacific plate
oceanic lithosphere
torque
Torque
energy distribution
formulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics

Cite this

Coblentz, D. D., Richardson, R., & Sandiford, M. (1994). On the gravitational potential of the Earth's lithosphere. Tectonics, 13(4), 929-945.

On the gravitational potential of the Earth's lithosphere. / Coblentz, D. D.; Richardson, Randall; Sandiford, M.

In: Tectonics, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1994, p. 929-945.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Coblentz, DD, Richardson, R & Sandiford, M 1994, 'On the gravitational potential of the Earth's lithosphere', Tectonics, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 929-945.
Coblentz, D. D. ; Richardson, Randall ; Sandiford, M. / On the gravitational potential of the Earth's lithosphere. In: Tectonics. 1994 ; Vol. 13, No. 4. pp. 929-945.
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