A full-Maxwell approach for large angle polar wander of viscoelastic bodies

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For large-angle long-term true polar wander (TPW) there are currently two types of nonlinear methods which give approximated solutions: those assuming that the rotational axis coincides with the axis of maximum moment of inertia (MoI), which simplifies the Liouville equation, and those based on the quasi-fluid approximation, which approximates the Love number. Recent studies show that both can have a significant bias for certain models. Therefore, we still lack an (semi)analytical method which can give exact solutions for large-angle TPW for a model based on Maxwell rheology. This paper provides a method which analytically solves the MoI equation and adopts an extended iterative procedure introduced in Hu et al. (2017) to obtain a time-dependent solution. The new method can be used to simulate the effect of a remnant bulge or models in different hydrostatic states. We show the effect of the viscosity of the lithosphere on long-term, large-angle TPW. We also simulate models without hydrostatic equilibrium and show that the choice of the initial stress-free shape for the elastic (or highly viscous) lithosphere of a given model is as important as its thickness for obtaining a correct TPW behavior. The initial shape of the lithosphere can be an alternative explanation to mantle convection for the difference between the observed and model predicted flattening. Finally, it is concluded that based on the quasi-fluid approximation, TPW speed on Earth and Mars is underestimated, while the speed of the rotational axis approaching the end position on Venus is overestimated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2745–2764
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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