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Symmetry and plate-like convection in fluids with temperature-dependent viscosity
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We explore the instabilities developed in a fluid in which viscosity depends on temperature. In particular, we consider a dependency that models a very viscous (and thus rather rigid) lithosphere over a convecting mantle. To this end, we study a 2D convection problem in which viscosity depends on temperature by abruptly changing its value by a factor of 400 within a narrow temperature gap. We conduct a study which combines bifurcation analysis and time-dependent simulations. Solutions such as limit cycles are found that are fundamentally related to the presence of symmetry. Spontaneous plate-like behaviors that rapidly evolve towards a stagnant lid regime emerge sporadically through abrupt bursts during these cycles. The plate-like evolution alternates motions towards either the right or the left, thereby introducing temporary asymmetries on the convecting styles. Further time-dependent regimes with stagnant and plate-like lids are found and described.
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