Overview of global modeling of plate behaviour & the eating habits of subduction zones
The Deep Carbon Observatory hosted a workshop at the Carnegie Institute in Washington DC to learn about the state of the art in modeling of the deep, long-term, global carbon cycle. There is a lot of information coming from the field of geochemistry which provides information on local fluxes, the existence of reservoirs and the relation to other large-scale geochemical cycles. The modeling community is, however, faced with a horrible difficulty — to get this right we first have to be able to have well-constrained global models of plate tectonics, these then we need really high-fidelity physical / chemical models of the multiphase flow in subduction zones and mid-ocean ridges. Having done that, we should put those together and try to work back through all of geological time. That would give a rough basic machinery to bolt together with ocean, atmosphere, surface process modeling, computational petrology etc etc.
That’s a pretty big challenge, but if there is any hope in making it tractable, it is in the fact that this is not a unique challenge to this particular problem but actually is a good summary of the leading edge of geodynamics today and the outstanding problems we are collectively trying to address.
Overall, an intense meeting with lots of interesting discussion and great conversation. My contribution (the slides, anyway) can be found at this link
Follow up (2015)
The compres meeting in Colorado Springs, July 2015 featured an interesting summary about the new DCO which appears to have undergone a metamorphosis into a dynamic modelling, big-data-driven entity as a result of the modelling meeting from last year. This is a joint effort with CIG and was probably a little undercooked at time I saw the presentation. Nevertheless, the broad sweep of where the DCO is headed aligns with the direction I see many of us heading and we are bound to meet again along the way. [September, 2015, Melbourne]