Bernhard Steinberger

Bernhard Steinberger
Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ | GFZ · Division of Geodynamic Modelling

Ph.D.

About

179
Publications
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Publications

Publications (179)
Article
Glacial-isostatic adjustment (GIA) is the key process controlling relative sea-level (RSL) and paleo-topography. The viscoelastic response of the solid Earth is controlled by its viscosity structure. Therefore, the appropriate choice of Earth structure for GIA models is still an important area of research in geodynamics. We construct 18 3D Earth st...
Article
Full-text available
The formation of a global network of plate boundaries surrounding a mosaic of lithospheric fragments was a key step in the emergence of Earth’s plate tectonics. So far, propositions for plate boundary formation are regional in nature but how plate boundaries are being created over 1000s of km in short periods of geological time remains elusive. Her...
Article
The Indian Ocean Geoid Low (IOGL) appears as a prominent feature if the geoid is, as usual, shown with respect to the Earth's reference shape. However, if it is shown relative to hydrostatic equilibrium, i.e. including excess flattening, it appears as merely a regional low on a north-south trending belt of low geoid. For a mantle viscosity structur...
Chapter
Most hotspots, kimberlites, and large igneous provinces (LIPs) are sourced by plumes that rise from the margins of two large low shear‐wave velocity provinces in the lowermost mantle. These thermochemical provinces have been quasi‐stable for hundreds of millions years and plume heads rise through the mantle in about 30 Myr or less. LIPs provide a d...
Article
Full-text available
The existence of mantle plumes was first proposed in the 1970s to explain intra-plate, hotspot volcanism, yet owing to difficulties in resolving mantle upwellings with geophysical images and discrepancies in interpretations of geochemical and geochronological data, the origin, dynamics and composition of plumes and their links to plate tectonics ar...
Article
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Supercontinents signify self-organization in plate tectonics. Over the past ~2 63 billion years, 3 major supercontinents have been identified, with increasing age: Pangaea, 64 Rodinia, and Columbia. In a prototypal form, a cyclic pattern of continental assembly and 65 breakup likely extends back to ~3 billion years ago, albeit on the smaller scale...
Article
This chapter describes the large-scale mantle flow structures beneath Antarctica as derived from global seismic tomography models of the present-day state. In combination with plate reconstructions, the time-dependent pattern of paleosubduction can be simulated and is also shown from the rarely seen Antarctic perspective. Furthermore, a dynamic top...
Article
Full-text available
The spatial distribution of the geochemical domains hosting recycled crust and primordial (high-3He/4 He) reservoirs, and how they are linked to mantle convection, are poorly understood. Two continent-sized seismic anomalies located near the core-mantle boundary—called the Large Low Shear Wave Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs)—are potential geochemical r...
Article
Full-text available
The nature and origin of the two large low-velocity provinces (LLVPs) in the lowest part of the mantle remain controversial. These structures have been interpreted as a purely thermal feature, accumulation of subducted oceanic lithosphere or a primordial zone of iron enrichment. Information regarding the density of the LLVPs would help to constrain...
Preprint
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Abstract. The nature and origin of the two Large Low Velocity Provinces in the lowest part of the mantle remain controversial. They have been interpreted as a purely thermal feature, accumulation of subducted oceanic lithosphere or a primordial zone of iron enrichment. Information regarding the density of the LLVPs would help to constrain a possibl...
Article
We have devised a new absolute Late Jurassic‐Cretaceous Pacific plate model using a fixed hot spot approach coupled with paleomagnetic data from Pacific large igneous provinces (LIPs) while simultaneously minimizing plate velocity and net lithosphere rotation (NR). This study was motivated because published Pacific plate models for the 83.5‐ to 1...
Article
Full-text available
In the classical concept, a hotspot track is a line of volcanics formed as a plate moves over a stationary mantle plume. Defying this concept, intraplate volcanism in Greenland and the North Atlantic region occurred simultaneously over a wide area, particularly around 60 million years ago, showing no resemblance to a hotspot track. Here, we show th...
Conference Paper
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The present-day status of the subducting slab beneath the Makran subduction zone is revealed through seismic tomography models. However uncertainties are indicated by discrepancies between various seismic tomography models. This motivated us to model Neo-Tethys oceanic plate subduction over the past 60 Myrs based on plate reconstructions. In this w...
Data
The main manuscript shows the model input and results from our series of calculations with the lithosphere-asthenosphere code coupled to the mantle flow code to evaluate the influence of the mantle flow and lithosphere density anomalies on lithosphere stress and topography. Here we show additional figures of model input and results which did not go...
Article
Full-text available
The orientation and tectonic regime of the observed crustal/lithospheric stress field contribute to our knowledge of different deformation processes occurring within the Earth's crust and lithosphere. In this study, we analyze the influence of the thermal and density structure of the upper mantle on the lithospheric stress field and topography. We...
Article
Based on Hager and O'Connell's solution to mantle flow equations, the stresses induced by mantle convection are determined using the density and viscosity structure in addition to topographic data and a plate velocity model. The solution to mantle flow equations requires the knowledge of mantle properties that are typically retrieved from seismic i...
Article
The impact of remotely forced mantle flow on regional subduction evolution is largely unexplored. Here we investigate this by means of 3D thermo-mechanical numerical modeling using a regional modeling domain. We start with simplified models consisting of a 600 km (or 1400 km) wide subducting plate surrounded by other plates. Mantle inflow of ∼3 cm/...
Article
Venus has similar size, density and bulk composition as Earth, but has tectonically evolved clearly differently and this divergence remains enigmatic. Surface observations such as gravity, topography and surface age constrain Venus’ evolution, but interpreting these signals requires understanding of the surface-interior coupling and thus insight in...
Article
Full-text available
Mantle plumes upwelling beneath moving tectonic plates generate age-progressive chains of volcanos (hotspot chains) used to reconstruct plate motion. However, these hotspots appear to move relative to each other, implying that plumes are not laterally fixed. The lack of age constraints on long-lived, coeval hotspot chains hinders attempts to recons...
Article
Full-text available
Lithospheric plates move over the low viscosity asthenosphere balancing several forces, which generate plate motions. We use a global 3D lithosphere-asthenosphere model (SLIM3D) with visco-elasto-plastic rheology coupled to a spectral model of mantle flow at a 300 km depth to quantify the influence of intra-plate friction and asthenospheric viscosi...
Article
For at least 120 million years, the Kerguelen plume has distributed enormous amounts of magmatic rocks over various igneous provinces between India, Australia and Antarctica. Previous attempts to reconstruct the complex history of this plume have revealed several characteristics that are inconsistent with properties typically associated with plumes...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The debate about the origin of the highlands in southern African has generated varying hypothesis, since the nominal processes for mountain building such as evidence of orogeny is not observed here at present-day. For example, some studies have suggested a pre-Paleozoic subduction under the southern Africa plate might have caused the high topograph...
Article
Two large, seismically slow regions in the lower mantle beneath Africa and the Pacific Ocean are sometimes referred to as "superplumes". This name evokes images of large-scale active upwellings. However, it remains unclear whether these features are real or represent collections of multiple regular mantle plumes. Here, we investigate the implicatio...
Article
Full-text available
The orientation and tectonic regime of the observed crustal/lithospheric stress field contribute to our knowledge of different deformation processes occurring within the Earth's crust and lithosphere. In this study, we analyze the influence of the thermal and density structure of the upper mantle on the lithospheric stress field and topography. We...
Article
Full-text available
One of the most pronounced geoid lows on Earth lies in the Indian Ocean just south of the Indian peninsula. Several theories have been proposed to explain this geoid low, most of which invoke past subduction [Hager and Richards, 1989; Nerlich et al., 2016]. Some recent studies have also argued that high velocity anomalies in the lower mantle couple...
Article
The Réunion mantle plume has shaped a large area of the Earth's surface over the past 65 million years: from the Deccan Traps in India along the hotspot track comprising the island chains of the Laccadives, Maldives and Chagos Bank on the Indian plate and the Mascarene Plateau on the African plate up to the currently active volcanism at La Réunion...
Article
Earth's spin axis follows the maximum moment of inertia axis of mantle convection, with some delay due to adjustment of the rotational bulge. Here we compute this axis for geodynamic models based on subduction history, assuming constant slab sinking speed, with another contribution due to thermochemical piles. For a wide range of parameters, a larg...
Article
Full-text available
Northwestern Namibia, at the landfall of the Walvis Ridge, was affected by the Tristan da Cunha mantle plume during continental rupture between Africa and South America, as evidenced by the presence of the Etendeka continental flood basalts. Here we use data from a passive-source seismological network to investigate the upper mantle structure and t...
Article
The outermost layer of the solid Earth consists of relatively rigid plates whose horizontal motions are well described by the rules of plate tectonics. Yet, the thickness of these plates is poorly constrained, with different methods giving widely discrepant results. Here a recently developed procedure to derive lithospheric thickness from seismic t...
Article
Full-text available
Ice-penetrating radar and ice core drilling have shown that large parts of the north-central Greenland ice sheet are melting from below. It has been argued that basal ice melt is due to the anomalously high geothermal flux that has also influenced the development of the longest ice stream in Greenland. Here we estimate the geothermal flux beneath t...
Article
Full-text available
Absolute reconstructions of large igneous provinces (LIPs) for the past 300 Ma reveal a remarkable spatial pattern suggesting that almost all LIPs have erupted over the margins of the two large-scale structures in the Earth's lower mantle commonly referred to as the Large Low Shear-wave Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs). This correlation suggests that ma...
Article
Hotspot tracks are thought to originate when mantle plumes impinge moving plates. However, many observed cases close to mid-ocean ridges do not form a single age-progressive line, but vary in width, are separated into several volcanic chains, or are distributed over different plates. Here we study plume-ridge interaction at the example of the Trist...
Article
Kevin Burke’s original and thought-provoking contributions have been published steadily for the past sixty years, and more than a decade ago he set out to resolve how plate tectonics and mantle plumes interact by proposing a simple conceptual model, which we will refer to as “the Burkian Earth”. On the Burkian Earth, mantle plumes take us from the...
Article
Large-scale topography may be due to several causes, including (1) variations in crustal thickness and density structure, (2) oceanic lithosphere age differences, (3) subcrustal density variations in the continental lithosphere and (4) convective flow in the mantle beneath the lithosphere. The last contribution in particular may change with time an...
Article
Dynamic topography is the part of topography caused by mantle convection: Upwellings push the surface upward while downwellings pull it down. It can be computed from mantle flow models or extracted from observations by correcting for all topography that is ‘not dynamic.’ Gravity can give further information. While the concept is straightforward in...
Article
We study segregation of the subducted oceanic crust (OC) at the core mantle boundary and its ability to accumulate and form large thermochemical piles (such as the seismically observed LLSVPs). Our high-resolution numerical simulations of thermochemical mantle convection suggest that the longevity of LLSVPs for up to three billion years, and possib...
Article
Full-text available
The magmatic activity (0–16 Ma) in Iceland is linked to a deep mantle plume that has been active for the past 62 My. Icelandic and northeast Atlantic basalts contain variable proportions of two enriched components, interpreted as recycled oceanic crust supplied by the plume, and subcontinental lithospheric mantle derived from the nearby continental...
Data
This quicktime animation accompanies the paper by Heine, C., Müller, R.D., DiCaprio, L. and Steinberger, B. (2010), Integrating deep Earth dynamics in paleogeographic reconstructions of Australia, Tectonophysics, 483, 135-150. The animation is based on a combination of a present-day digital elevation model corrected for time-dependent sediment thic...
Article
Full-text available
After >500 Myr of absence, major Northern Hemisphere glaciations appeared during the Plio-Pleistocene, with Greenland leading other northern areas. Here we propose that three major solid-Earth processes underpinned build-up of the Greenland ice-sheet. First, a mantle-plume pulse, responsible for the North Atlantic Igneous Province at ~60 Ma, region...
Article
Full-text available
Earth's residual geoid is dominated by a degree-2 mode, with elevated regions above large low shear-wave velocity provinces on the core-mantle boundary beneath Africa and the Pacific. The edges of these deep mantle bodies, when projected radially to the Earth's surface, correlate with the reconstructed positions of large igneous provinces and kimbe...
Article
Hotspots are defined as anomalous volcanism that cannot be attributed to plate tectonics, unlike that associated with island arcs and spreading ridges. Mantle plumes, which are upwelling instabilities from deep in Earth's mantle, are thought to be responsible for hotspots that are relatively stationary, resulting in chains of islands and seamounts...
Article
replying to M. L. Rudolph & S. Zhong 503, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12792 (2013)We thank Rudolph and Zhong for their Comment, which allows us to highlight important aspects of our original Letter. In particular, they have provided an example of plate motions at 300 million years (Myr) ago (see right column of figure 1 of ref. 1) in which the...
Article
Full-text available
[1] Estimates of the relative motion between the Hawaiian and Louisville hot spots have consequences for understanding the role and character of deep Pacific-mantle return flow. The relative motion between these primary hot spots can be inferred by comparing the age records for their seamount trails. We report 40Ar/39Ar ages for 18 lavas from 10 se...
Article
Viscous convection within the mantle is linked to tectonic plate motions and deforms Earth's surface across wide areas. Such close links between surface geology and deep mantle dynamics presumably operated throughout Earth's history, but are difficult to investigate for past times because the history of mantle flow is poorly known. Here we show tha...
Conference Paper
3000 m of ice sheet thickness has ensured that central Greenland has kept it geothermal heat flow (GHF) distribution enigmatic. Some few direct ice temperature measurements from deep ice cores reveal a GHF of 50 to 60 mW/m² in the Summit region and this is noticeably above what would be expected for the underlying Early Proterozoic lithosphere. In...
Conference Paper
Thermal and chemical evolution of Earth's deep mantle can be studied by modeling vigorous convection in a chemically heterogeneous fluid. Numerical modeling of such a system poses several computational challenges. Dominance of heat advection over the diffusive heat transport, and a negligible amount of chemical diffusion results in sharp gradients...
Conference Paper
One of the most robust results from tomographic studies is the existence of two antipodally located Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) at the base of the mantle, which appear to be chemically denser than the ambient mantle. Results from reconstruction studies (Torsvik et al., 2006) infer that the LLSVPs are stable, long-lived, and are samp...
Conference Paper
Our knowledge of dynamic topography in Antarctica remains in an infancy stage compared to other continents. We assess the space-time variability in dynamic topography in Antarctica by analysing grids of global dynamic topography in the Cenozoic (and late Cretaceous) based on the tomographic model S40RTS. Our model reveals that the Gamburtsev Provin...
Conference Paper
Venus and Earth have similar size and probably also core radius, such that many results that have been obtained for Earth's mantle could apply to Venus as well. Yet a fundamental difference between the two planets is that Earth features plate tectonics, whereas Venus appears to be in the rigid lid regime. From a variety of constraints, a substantia...
Data
Full-text available
The Laccadive–Chagos Ridge and Southern Mascarene Plateau in the north-central and western Indian Ocean, respectively, are thought to be volcanic chains formed above the Réunion mantle plume 1 over the past 65.5 million years 2,3 . Here we use U–Pb dating to analyse the ages of zircon xenocrysts found within young lavas on the island of Mauritius,...
Article
Full-text available
The Laccadive-Chagos Ridge and Southern Mascarene Plateau in the north-central and western Indian Ocean, respectively, are thought to be volcanic chains formed above the Reunion mantle plume(1) over the past 65.5 million years(2,3). Here we use U-Pb dating to analyse the ages of zircon xenocrysts found within young lavas on the island of Mauritius,...
Presentation
The Yellowstone hotspot results from the interaction of a mantle plume with the overriding N. America plate producing a ~300-m high topographic swell centered on the Late Quaternary Yellowstone volcanic field. The Yellowstone area is dominated by earthquake swarms including a deadly M7.3 earthquake, extraordinary high heat flow up to ~40,000 mWm-2,...
Article
It is generally believed that subduction of lithospheric slabs is a major contribution to thermal heterogeneity in Earth's entire mantle and provides a main driving force for mantle flow. Mantle structure can, on the one hand, be inferred from plate tectonic models of subduction history and geodynamic models of mantle flow. On the other hand, seism...
Article
The equipotential figures of Earth (residual geoid), and of Mars (areoid) are characterized by pairs of elevated and pairs of depressed antipodal equatorial regions. Elevated regions of the residual geoid lie vertically above the two Large Low Shear Wave Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) on the Core Mantle Boundary (CMB). There is evidence that the LLSVP...
Article
Full-text available
We defined a new global moving hot spot reference frame (GMHRF), using a comprehensive set of radiometric dates from arguably the best-studied hot spot tracks, refined plate circuit reconstructions, a new plate polygon model, and an iterative approach for estimating hot spot motions from numerical models of whole mantle convection and advection of...
Article
A significant number of new palaeomagnetic poles have become available since the last time a compilation was made (assembled in 2005, published in 2008) to indicate to us that a new and significantly expanded set of tables with palaeomagnetic results would be valuable, with results coming from the Gondwana craton-ic elements, Laurentia, Baltica/Eur...
Article
The Earth's internal magnetic field varies on timescales of months to billions of years. The field is generated by convection in the liquid outer core, which in turn is influenced by the heat flowing from the core into the base of the overlying mantle. Much of the magnetic field's variation is thought to be stochastic, but over very long timescales...
Article
Full-text available
It is generally believed that subduction of lithospheric slabs is a major contribution to thermal heterogeneity in Earth's entire mantle and provides a main driving force for mantle flow. Mantle structure can, on the one hand, be inferred from plate tectonic models of subduction history and geodynamic models of mantle flow. On the other hand, seism...
Conference Paper
One of the most robust results from tomographic studies is the existence of two antipodally located Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs) at the base of the mantle. Results from the reconstruction studies (Torsvik et al., 2006) have led to inferences that the LLSVPs are stable and long-lived. The negative correlation between the bulk sound ve...
Conference Paper
The geomagnetic field is generated by the convection of molten metal in the Earth's outer core that is itself controlled by heat flowing across the core-mantle boundary. It has long been suspected that palaeomagnetically-observed variations in geomagnetic behaviour occurring over tens to hundreds of millions of years result from changes in core-man...