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    Solid earth sciences

    201511201511

    Effect of width, amplitude, and position of a core mantle boundary hot spot on core convection and dynamo action

    Dietrich W, Wicht J, Hori K

    Core convection, Geodynamo, Ancient Martian dynamo, Inhomogeneous CMB heat flux, Numerical simulation

    Hemisphericity of the generated magnetic field, at the Martian surface, versus equatorially antisymmetric axisymmetry (EAA) of the core convection.

    Within the fluid iron cores of terrestrial planets, convection and the resulting generation of global magnetic fields are controlled by the overlying rocky mantle. The thermal structure of the lower mantle determines how much heat is allowed to escape the core. Hot lower mantle features, such as the thermal footprint of a giant impact or hot mantle plumes, will locally reduce the heat flux through the core mantle boundary (CMB), thereby weakening core convection and affecting the magnetic field generation process. In this study, we numerically investigate how parametrised hot spots at the CMB with arbitrary sizes, amplitudes, and positions affect core convection and hence the dynamo. The effect of the heat flux anomaly is quantified by changes in global flow symmetry properties, such as the emergence of equatorial antisymmetric, axisymmetric (EAA) zonal flows. For purely hydrodynamic models, the EAA symmetry scales almost linearly with the CMB amplitude and size, whereas self-consistent dynamo simulations typically reveal either suppressed or drastically enhanced EAA symmetry depending mainly on the horizontal extent of the heat flux anomaly. Our results suggest that the length scale of the anomaly should be on the same order as the outer core radius to significantly affect flow and field symmetries. As an implication to Mars and in the range of our model, the study concludes that an ancient core field modified by a CMB heat flux anomaly is not able to heterogeneously magnetise the crust to the present-day level of north–south asymmetry on Mars. The resulting magnetic fields obtained using our model either are not asymmetric enough or, when they are asymmetric enough, show rapid polarity inversions, which are incompatible with thick unidirectional magnetisation.