A Hybrid Approach to Data Assimilation for Reconstructing the Evolution of Mantle Dynamics

Quan Zhou, Lijun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quantifying past mantle dynamic processes represents a major challenge in understanding the temporal evolution of the solid earth. Mantle convection modeling with data assimilation is one of the most powerful tools to investigate the dynamics of plate subduction and mantle convection. Although various data assimilation methods, both forward and inverse, have been created, these methods all have limitations in their capabilities to represent the real earth. Pure forward models tend to miss important mantle structures due to the incorrect initial condition and thus may lead to incorrect mantle evolution. In contrast, pure tomography-based models cannot effectively resolve the fine slab structure and would fail to predict important subduction-zone dynamic processes. Here we propose a hybrid data assimilation approach that combines the unique power of the sequential and adjoint algorithms, which can properly capture the detailed evolution of the downgoing slab and the tomographically constrained mantle structures, respectively. We apply this new method to reconstructing mantle dynamics below the western U.S. while considering large lateral viscosity variations. By comparing this result with those from several existing data assimilation methods, we demonstrate that the hybrid modeling approach recovers the realistic 4-D mantle dynamics the best.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3854-3868
Number of pages15
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • data assimilation
  • mantle convection modeling
  • mantle dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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