The Evolution of the Moon: A Finite Element Approach
Abstract
Thermal convection has considerable influence on the thermal evolution of terrestrial planets. Previous numerical models of planetary convection have solved the system of partial differential equations by finite difference methods, or have approximated it by parametrized methods. We have evaluated the applicability of a finite element solution of these equations. Our model analyses the thermal history of a selfgravitating spherical planetary body; it includes the effects of viscous dissipation, internal melting, adiabatic gradient, core formation, variable viscosity, decay of radioactive nucleides, and a depth dependent initial temperature profile. Reflecting current interest, physical parameters corresponding to the Moon were selected for the model. Although no initial basalt ocean is assumed for the Moon, partial melting is observed very early in its history; this is presumably related to the formation of the basalt maria. The convection pattern appears to be dominated by an L2 mode. The presentday lithospheric thickness in the model is 600 km, with coremantle temperatures close to 1600 K. Surface heat flux is 25.3 mW m^{2}, higher than the steady statevalue by about 16%. The finite element method is clearly applicable to the problem of planetary evolution, but much faster solution algorithms will be necessary if a sufficient number of models are to be examined by this method.
 Publication:

Moon and Planets
 Pub Date:
 December 1982
 DOI:
 10.1007/BF00930000
 Bibcode:
 1982M&P....27..467C
 Keywords:

 Astronomical Models;
 Finite Element Method;
 Lunar Evolution;
 Selenology;
 Basalt;
 Convective Heat Transfer;
 Lithosphere;
 Lunar Maria;
 Temperature Profiles;
 Lunar and Planetary Exploration