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Type: Journal article
Title: On the radiogenic heat production of igneous rocks
Author: Hasterok, D.
Webb, J.
Citation: Geoscience Frontiers, 2017; 8(5):919-940
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1674-9871
Statement of
D. Hasterok, J. Webb
Abstract: Radiogenic heat production is a physical parameter crucial to properly estimating lithospheric temperatures and properly understanding processes related to the thermal evolution of the Earth. Yet heat production is, in general, poorly constrained by direct observation because the key radiogenic elements exist in trace amounts making them difficulty image geophysically. In this study, we advance our knowledge of heat production throughout the lithosphere by analyzing chemical analyses of 108,103 igneous rocks provided by a number of geochemical databases. We produce global estimates of the average and natural range for igneous rocks using common chemical classification systems. Heat production increases as a function of increasing felsic and alkali content with similar values for analogous plutonic and volcanic rocks. The logarithm of median heat production is negatively correlated (r2 ¼ 0.98) to compositionally-based estimates of seismic velocities between 6.0 and 7.4 km s 1, consistent with the vast majority of igneous rock compositions. Compositional variations for continent-wide models are also well-described by a log-linear correlation between heat production and seismic velocity. However, there are differences between the log-linear models for North America and Australia, that are consistent with interpretations from previous studies that suggest above average heat production across much of Australia. Similar log-linear models also perform well within individual geological provinces withw1000 samples. This correlation raises the prospect that this empirical method can be used to estimate average heat production and natural variance both laterally and vertically throughout the lithosphere. This correlative relationship occurs despite a direct causal relationship between these two parameters but probably arises from the process of differentiation through melting and crystallization.
Keywords: Heat generation; igneous rocks; heat producing elements; continental lithosphere; seismic velocity; density
Rights: © 2017, China University of Geosciences (Beijing) and Peking University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
RMID: 0030070781
DOI: 10.1016/j.gsf.2017.03.006
Appears in Collections:Geology & Geophysics publications

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