Paul J. Tackley, Professor
ETH Zurich Institute fuer Geophysik, Department of Earth Sciences
(previously at UCLA Department of Earth and Space Sciences and IGPP)
Planetary Physics and Chemistry
Click here for my google scholar citations page
Click here for a movie showing group activities
I am interested in the thermo-chemical structure, dynamics and evolution of the interiors of solid planets and moons, including Earth, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Io and extrasolar super-Earths, focussing particularly on convection in the solid mantle and the associated dynamics of the lithosphere, which on Earth means plate tectonics.
My main research tool is numerical simulation, using state-of-the-art numerical
methods on high performance (massively-parallel)
supercomputers to obtain more realistic, three-dimensional numerical
models of dynamical processes than previously possible. Specific recent projects include:
- Developing integrated, self-consistent models of plate tectonics
and mantle convection- a long-standing problem in geodynamics.
Temperature-dependent viscosity by itself leads to a rigid, immobile
lithosphere ('single-plate planet')- additional rheological
complexities are necessary to allow plates to form. I have developed
some of the first 3-D models in which plates form in such a manner.
- Thermo-chemical convection, including the possibility of deep
chemical layering, and the thermo-chemical evolution of Earth and other
terrestrial planets. The melting associated with plate tectonics causes
mantle differentiation, whereas convection causes mantle mixing, and
the complex interaction between these two opposing processes is what
determines the planet's evolution.
- Asthenospheric dynamics and the Yellowstone hotspot. Partial
melting in the asthenosphere results in buoyancy sources that can drive
flow and cause further melting. This could be an explanation
explanation to deep mantle plumes for certain hotspots and other
volcanism on Earth. Even if the heat source is a deep plume, these
compositional effects will strongly modulate what happens in the
- Plume dynamics and plume-lithosphere interaction. Previous mantle
plume models usually assume rather small viscosity contrasts and linear
rheology, and are often 2-D (axisymmetric). When you allow more
realistic rheology and three-dimensionality, things can be quite
different, as we have been discovering!
- Continental collisional dynamics. A planned effort is to model
the India:Asia collision.
A good general description of my research (though out of date) can
be found here.
1998 article about my research in SDSC's Envision newsletter:
1994 article in Caltech's CACR annual report: link
1994 article from Physics World (text only) "Journey to the
Mantle of the Earth":
Useful computing things
2D convection code written in Matlab (variable viscosity, staggered grid)
Instructions for making a movie from a series of consecutively numbered images
How to compile OpenDX and loadable modules for it on MacOS 10.6 Snow Leopard
StagYY->Paraview: Matlab scripts that read StagYY output files and write as VTK (by Boris Kaus).
The latest cluster: Gonzales
My 2004 Beowulf cluster (@UCLA)
My first Beowulf cluster
Group members and friends at the 2007 Goldschmidt conference in Cologne
Photos from 2007 Mantle and Lithosphere Dynamics workshop in Carry-le-Rouet
Photos of the ETH NO building taken 19 October 2007
Wave Propagation Movies
Some Convection Movies
here for 'field work' pictures
at the Great Wall of China!