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# INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K.

## Stwe, March 2008

1

________________________________________________________________

Heat Flow

Definitions, Units, Equations and Implementation in GEOMODELLER

(Notes from a course on heat flow modelling given at INTREPID GEOPHYSICS in March 2008 and a summary of the
subsequent implementation into GEOMODELLER software)

CONTENT
__________________________________________

1. WHAT IS HEAT FLOW ? ..................................................................................................
2. FOURIERS FIRST LAW ..................................................................................................
CONDUCTIVITY
3. FOURIERS SECOND LAW ..................................................................................................
HEAT CAPACITY
DENSITY
4. THE DIFFUSION EQUATION ....................................................................................
5. A SIMPLE EXAMPLE FOR THERMAL STEADY STATE ..........................................
BOUNDARY CONDITIONS TO GEOTHERM CALCULATIONS
6. HEAT PRODUCTION ..................................................................................................
7. AMOUNT AND DISTRIBUTION OF RADIOACTIVITY .........................................
MANTLE HEAT FLOW
EXTENT OF HEAT PRODUCTION
ORIGN AND AMOUNT OF RADIOACTIVITY
ANALYTICAL TESTS
8. TIME DEPENDENT MODELLING OF HEAT FLOW............................................................
9. ADVECTION OF HEAT ..........................................................................................................
10. BOUNDARY CONDITIONS ..................................................................................................
DIRICHLET BOUNDARY CONDITION
NEUMANN BOUNDARY CONDITION
11. EQUATIONS AND BOUNDARY CONDITIONS FOR GEOMODELLER ........................
11A. PERIODIC TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATIONS
11B. TOPOGRAPHY AND SURFACE ADIABATS
12. NUMERICAL APPROXIMATION FOR GEOMODELLER ................................................
SUMMARY OF UNIT TESTS

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kurt Stwe 2.4.2008
INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
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INTRODUCTION

When modelling temperatures and heat flow, it is important to consider all the processes that transfer heat in the
Earths crust. In summary these are:

________________________________________

Conduction of heat
Production of heat by:
o Chemical Reaction
o Mechanical Work (Friction)
Advection (Convection) of heat by:
o Erosion
o Deformation
o Magma
o Fluids
________________________________________

All these processes may be described by solving the heat transport equation in 3 dimension in its full Cartesian
form:

) /( ) (
2
p mech chem rad
c S S S U
dt
dT
+ + + + =

This equation is both: too long and too short: It is "too short" because it implies some simplifications, in
particular the assumption of constant conductivity in the first term. It is "too long" because several of the heat
transfer processes may be neglected and - for the purposes of using this equation in GEOMODELLER to
predict temperatures - only the steady state form of this equation is relevant. Thus, this equation needs careful
consideration as to the relevant terms, its origin and its parameter ranges and boundary conditions for its
solution.

This tutorial summarises some basic principles of heat flow in order to derive and solve this equation. The focus
of the tutorial is on considering those parts of this equation that are relevant for implementation in the
INTREPID GEOPHYSICS software GEOMODELLER and its application to geothermal energy resources. The
content of the tutorial follows in large parts Chapter 3 (p. 52-101) of the 2nd edition of the book
GEODYNAMICS OF THE LITHOSPHERE (Stwe, 2007).
INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
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__________________________________________________________________________________________

1. WHAT IS HEAT FLOW ?

Akin to the flow of water in a river (measured in litres (or cubic metres) per second per square meter of river
profile), the flow of heat, q is measured in energy per time and per unit area:

(

=
(

=
2 2
m
W
sm
J
q (1)

Historically, heat flow was measured in "heat flow units" (hfu) which corresponds to calories per second and
centimetres squared, i.e. :

(

=

2
6
10 1
scm
cal
hfu (2)

Heat flow units convert to the SI units through a factor of: 1 hfu = 0.04184 W m
-2
. Other than its historical
importance, the sole advantage of using hfu (instead of the SI units) is that the surface heat flow on Earth is of
the order of 1 - 2 hfu's and therefore requires fewer decimals than heat flow in SI units.

Typical heat flows at the Earths surface is between 0.001 W m
-2
and 0.1 W m
-2
. The mean heat flow of all
continents q
c
and that of the oceans q
o
, are:

q
c
= 0.065 W m
-2

q
o
= 0.101 W m
-2

Multiplied with the surface areas of he oceans and the continents, respectively, we can estimate the global heat
loss of Earth to space to be some 10
21
Joules every year.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

2. FOURIERS FIRST LAW

Fourier made the empirical observation that the heat flow is linearly proportional to the thermal gradient:

dz
dT
k q = (3)

where q is the heat flow as before, dT/dz is the thermal gradient with distance z and the negative sign arises
because heat flows down the thermal gradient. The proportionality constant k is called thermal conductivity.
Analysing the units of this equation shows that k has the units:

(

=
smK
J
k (4)

CONDUCTIVITY: Typical values of conductivity for common rock types are:

sandstone k = 1.5 - 4.2 J s
-1
m
-1
K
-1

gneiss k = 2.1 - 4.2 J s
-1
m
-1
K
-1

granite k = 2.4 - 3.8 J s
-1
m
-1
K
-1

salt k = 5.4 - 7.2 J s
-1
m
-1
K
-1

iron k = 73 J s
-1
m
-1
K
-1

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
4

Thermal conductivity may be temperature dependent but this dependence is rarely considered in thermal
modelling. More important is the conductivity contrast between different rock types.

HEAT REFRACTION: In volume of rock that is in thermal steady state, there is typically no heat flowing
across lithological boundaries (except through boundaries like the base of the crust or the Earths surface which
act effectively as infinite reservoirs and heat sinks, respectively). We could also say that in the adjoining rock
units the heat flow is the same. Giving eq.(3), we could say:

z
T
k
z
T
k

2
2
1
1
(5)

THE IDEA OF AUSTRALIAN GEOTHERMAL ENERGY PROSPECTING: In the figure below you can see
that different thermal gradients will exist in rock units of different conductivity. This is the essence of the "hot
dry rock" geothermal energy resource. Like any other geothermal energy resource, this requires as hot of a rock
as possible as close to the surface as possible. This is most easily achieved if a highly radioactive granite (with
high thermal conductivity), is thermally insulated from above by a sdimentary cover of low thermal
conductivity.

Figure: Principle of heat refraction

__________________________________________________________________________________________

3. FOURIER'S SECOND LAW

Fourier's second law is based on a simple energy balance. It simply states that the change of the energy content
H with time t corresponds to the change of heat flow with distance z :

dz
dq
dt
dH
= (6)

Analysing the units of the equation its clear that heat content H is measured in:

(

=
3
m
J
H (7)

The origin of the negative sign in eq.(6) can be seen on the figure: If more heat flows into of a unit volume than
flows out of it, then the change of heat flow across the distance dz is negative and the heat content inside it will
rise.

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
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Figure: Energy balance in a unity volume

HEAT CAPACITY: So far we have only talked about heat and heat flow - all measured in Joules. Geologist are
more interested in temperature than in energy, so it is time to convert H into C. For this we need 2 more
material constants: First we need the heat capacity, c
p
, which is the material constant that tells us how many
Joules are needed to heat one kg of rock by 1 C. Thus, heat capacity has the units:

(

=
C kg
J
c
p
(8)

Typical heat capacities of rocks are between 800 J kg C and 1000 J kg C and - because the variation is so
much less than that of conductivitiy, few thermal modellers ever worry about this variation and simply assume c
p

= 1000 Jkg C.

DENSITY: Because heat content H is mesured in Joules per cubic metre and heat capacity is given in Joules
per kilogram and C, we also need to convert kg to m
3
. This is done by dividing by density :

(

=
3
m
kg
(9)

Typical densities of rocks are between 2600 kg m
-3
and 3000 kg m
-3
. So - again - the variation of densities
between different rock types is substantially smaller than variations in conductivity and it is not worth worrying
about it too much, i.e. we assume generally that it is a constant. In summary we can now say that heat content
relates to temperature via:

p
c
H
T = (10)

__________________________________________________________________________________________

4. THE DIFFUSION EQUATION

If we substitute the conversion of heat into temperature from eq.(10) into Fourier's 2nd law (left hand side of
eq.(6) ) and further substitute eq.(3) into the right hand side of eq.(6) we get:

dz
dz
dT
k d
dt
dT
c
p
|

\
|

= (11)

or - if conductivity is a constant:

2
2
2
2
dz
T d
dz
T d
c
k
dt
dT
p

=
|
|

\
|
= (12)

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
6

The fraction =k/(cp) is called thermal diffusivity. Inserting numbers and comparing units shows that the
thermal diffusivity is around: = 10
-6
m
2
s
-1
. Eq.(12) is called the 1 dimensional diffusion equation. In 2 and 3
dimensions, corresponding terms for x and y directions are simply added.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

5. A SIMPLE EXAMPLE FOR THERMAL STEADY STATE

Thermal steady state means that there is no change of the temperature distribution over time. For most
goethermal projects in Australia this is given, as the crust has usually long equilibrated since the last tectonic
disturbance. For this assumption, we can simply set the left hand side of eq.(12) to zero. We get:

0
2
2
=
dz
T d
or - written in 3D - abbreviated with : 0
2
= (13)

This is called La-Place equation and it forms the basis for all our thermal modelling. We can check if it is an
appropriate equation by calculating a continental geotherm with it. Integrating eq.(13) twice gives:

2 1
C z C T + = (14)

where C
1
and C
2
are the integration constants that have to be determined from geological boundary conditions.

BOUNDARY CONDITIONS TO GEOTHERM CALCULATIONS: Typically it is a good assumption to think
that the temperature at the surface of Earth is near zero. If our z coordinate is positive downwards and fixed at
the surface, then C
2
must be C
2
= 0 for the temperature to be zero at z = 0. As a 2nd boundary condition we may
want to assume that the temperature is T = T
l
at the base of the lithosphere z
l
where we know that the
temperature is T
l
= 1200C. Then, it can be seen from eq.(14) that C
1
= T
l
/z
l
. Inserting both integration constants
we get:

l
l
z
z
T T= (15)
It may immediately be seen that eq.(15) describes a straight line between the surface and depth z
l
. For a
lithosphere of some z
l
= 120 km thickness this gives a mean geotherms gradient of 10C per kilometre which is
substantially lower than those observed. The error we made is that we forgot about radioactivity. We have to go
all the way back to eq.(6) to think about radioactivity.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

6. HEAT PRODUCTION

Reconsidering eq.(6) , we need to write:

S
dz
dq
dt
dH
+ = (16)

... if radioactive heat production inside the considered volume contributes to the heat change over time. This
should be quite intuitive. Radioactive heat production rate S has the units of:

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
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(

=
3
sm
J
S (17)

Note that there is also heat production by metamorphic reaction (chemical heat production) and by friction
(mechanical heat production), but in a non-deforming rock in thermal steady state, radioactivity is the only heat
production rate for our interest. Inserting the parameters conductivity, heat capacity and density as we did above,
we get:

p p
c
S
dz
T d
c
k
dt
dT
+
|
|

\
|
=
2
2
(18)

If we neglect dissipation of heat by diffusion for a moment, then we could write eq.(18) also as:

p
c
S
dt
dT
= (19)

and we can see that radioactive heat production results directly in heating rocks. For the parameter values given
above, and S = 10
-5
Wm
-3
the heating rate in eq.(19) is 120C every million years. So this is quite substantial!
If we do not neglect diffusion, but only look at the equilibrated steady state situation, then eq.(18) becomes:

k
S
dz
T d
=
2
2
(20)

which is now our improved equation to model heat flow. If we would now do the same what we did in section 5
and integrate this equation subject to boundary conditions appropriate to contientnal geotherms, we would see
that - this time - we get much too steep geothermal gradients at the surface (eq.(24) gives an example for this).
This is because the rdioactivity we measure in rocks at the surface is not representative for the crust as a whole.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

7. AMOUNT AND DISTRIBUTION OF RADIOACTIVITY

Typical radiogenic heat production rates of crustal rocks vary between S = 1 - 50 W m
-3
. On the scale of a
GEOMODELLER project, it is of course important to consider the radioactivities of each rock type carefully
and individually. However, on the scale of the entire crust, there is some interesting data that help us to get a
feeling how much there is in total and how it is distributed within the lithosphere.

2 4 6 8
20
40
60
80
100
heat production rate (Wm ) S
3
s
u
r
f
a
c
e

h
e
a
t

f
l
o
w
(
m
W

m
)
q
s

2
0

Figure: Data set of surface heat production rates versus surface heat flows measured by Roy et al., 1968 in the western US

The most famous of these data sets stems from measuring surface heat flows and radioactivities of rocks in the
western US. Plotting these two data sets against each other revealed a linear distribution like that shown on the
figure below. The data can be fitted with a linear equation of the form:

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
8
r m s
z S q q
0
+ = (21)

where q
m
is the intercept with the vertical heat flow axis, S
o
is the heat production measured in rocks collected at
the surface and z
r
is the slope of the data. The geological interpretation of intercept and slope are as follows:

T
z
1280 C
a
b
c
q = q = q a b c
M
o
h
o

(
z
)
c

Figure: Distribution models for radioactivity in the crust.

MANTLE HEAT FLOW: The intercept q
m
corresponds to the heat flow at the surface in places where there is
no radiogenic heat production. In such regions, there will be a linear thermal gradient and therefore the heat flow
at the surface corresponds to the heat flow at the Moho.

EXTENT OF HEAT PRODUCTION: The slope z
r
has the units of metres (as can be seen from analysing the
units of eq.(21)). It may be interpreted as the "equivalent depth extent of heat production", i.e. the extent to
which the heat production measured at the surface (S
o
) extends to depth. The total contribution of heat
production in the crust to the surface heat flow, q
r
, is therefore:

r r
z S q
0
= and , from eq.(21):
r m s
q q q + = (22)

Clearly, in nature, radioactivity is not constant in the crust down to z
r
and zero below that, but this model gives
us a fair indication of the proportion of surface heat flow that is due to radioactivity - q
r
. Most thermal modellers
that need to consider the entire crust, assume that the heat production decreases exponentially with depth
according to:

) / (
0
r
h z
e S S

= (23)

and adjust the skin depth hr so that the integrated heat production corresponds to eq.(22), but this need not worry
us here. However, eq.(22) can be used to estimate how heat flow changes during thickening of the crust and or
the mantle part of the lithosphere (Stwe, 2007).

S

Figure: Radiogenic heat production through time since the condensation of the solar system and statistics of heat
production of basement granites in southern Australia.

ORIGN AND AMOUNT OF RADIOACTIVITY: Radiogenic heat production stems predominantly from the
elements U, Th and K. U and Th are incompatible elements that like to fractionate into granitoids and K is
INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
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mostly in potassium feldspar. As such, granitoids are the prime candidates for highly radiogenic rocks. They
produce between 1 and 30 W m
-3
heat. In contrast, mature sediments are almost free of radioactives. The
relative contribution of these 3 elements to the total heat production has changed over time since the Archaean
(see figure).

ANALYTICAL TESTS: For simple assumptions on the distribution of heat production with depth, there are
analytical solutions of the heat flow equation. For constant heat production inside the volume, constant
conductivity and constant temperature boundary conditions at the top (T = 0) and the base at z
c
, (T = T
zc
)a
solution of the relevant equation eq. (20) is:

k
z Sz
z
z T
k
Sz
T
c
c
zc
2 2
2
+ + = (24)

For a step-shaped distribution of radiogenic heat production according to the relationship derived in eq.(21), a
constant heat flow boundary condition at the base (q = q
m
) and zero temperature at the surface, the temperature
distribution with depth is:

k
z q z
z
k
Sz
T
m
+ |

\
|
=
2
where z < zrad (25a)

and:

k
z q
k
Sz
T
+ =
2
2
where z > zrad (25b)

Eqs.(24) and eq.(25) form the basis for the test cases performed for the initial implementation in
GEOMODELLER.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

8. TIME DEPENDENT MODELLING OF HEAT FLOW

If we want to model the time dependent evolution of temperature in a given volume and subject to the
appropriate boundary conditions, then we need to solve eq.(12). This can be done either "analytically" or
"numerically". In either case, the resulting solution usually contains length scale L and time scales in a
quadratic relationship so that:

2
L
(26)

This relationships says that the duration of thermal equilibration by diffusion is proportional to the square of
the size of the equilibrating body L and inverse proportional to the thermal diffusivity (for which we derived =
10
-6
m
2
s
-1
above). Inserting numbers shows that a typical GEOMODELLER volume of 10 - 100 km length scale
takes between 3 and 300 million years to equilibrate - both being shorter than the last important tectonic events
in Australia. Thus, time dependence may be neglected and we consider only LaPlace' equation eq.(13) with an
added heat production term as in eq.(20).

Time dependent problems are not discussed further here.

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
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__________________________________________________________________________________________

9. ADVECTION OF HEAT

Heat may not only be transported by conduction, but also moved actively by through the motion of material.
This is called advection and may be done in rocks by:

Advection of heat by magma (Intrusion)
Advection of heat through deformation and erosion
Advection of heat by fluids

Deformation, erosion and intrusion do not concern us here as GEOMODELLER models only geometry and not
kinematics. However, advection by fluids may be of some concern. Whether or not advection is of importance,
may be estimated by considering the Peclet number Pe. This is given by:

UL
Pe = (27)

where U is the advection rate (i.e. the velocity of moving material), L is the length scale of the advection process
(e.g. the width of a fluid duct) and is the thermal diffusivity as above. If Pe << 1 then, advection can be
neglected and the processes will be diffusion dominated. Temperatures can be modelled with eq.(12). If Pe is
about 1 then both advection and diffusion need consideration and the advection term from eq.(26) needs to be
added to eq. (12) to model temperatures. If Pe >> 1 then only advection plays an important role and needs
consideration. Advection is described with the transport equation of the form:

dz
dT
u
dt
dT
= or - in several dimensions:
dz
dT
u
dy
dT
u
dx
dT
u
dt
dT
z y x
+ + = (28)

where u is the advection rate, T is temperature as before, t is time and x, y ,z the three spatial coordinates. As we
will not consider erosion or deformation (where the entire rock body moves), but only consider fluid flow (where
only fluid moves through the porosity of the rock), we need to adjust the advection rate for the moving
proportion and also need to consider the fluids thermal properties. This is done by setting:

|
|

\
|
=

p
f
f
p
f
c
c
v u (29)

where is the porosity, vf the fluid flow rate in ms
-1
and the term in the brackets is the contrast of heat capacity
and density of the fluid to that of the rock. Inserting eq.(29) into eq.(28) gives a good way to describe advection
of heat by fluids.

ANALYTICAL TEST: In order to test the advection routines in the initial implementation of heat flow in
GEOMODELLER, we assumed constant advection of the entire rock volume at rate u and constant temperatures
at the top (T = 0) and the base (T = T
base
at depth z
c
) as boundary conditions. An analytical solution of eq. (12)
with an advection term added from eq.(26) for these asumptions is:

|
|

\
|

=
) / exp( 1
) / exp( 1

c
base
uz
uz
T T (30)

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
11

_________________________________________________________________________________________

10. BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

Like any other differential equation, the heat transport equations need boundary conditions to evaluate the
integration constants. We have already used heat flow and constant temperature type boundary conditions to
derive eq.(15), eq.(24), eq.(25) and eq.(39). In general terms Wwe discern:

DIRICHLET BOUNDARY CONDITION: This boundary condition describes the boundaries of the model
volume with a prescribed function. In most cases, this function is simply a constant, so that temperature along
the model boundaries are set to a constant temperature (e.g. constant temprature at the surface or at the base of
the model).

NEUMANN BOUNDARY CONDITION: This boundary condition describes the temperatures along the model
boundaries through a gradient. This gradient may be zero (for a zero heat flow boundary) or a prescribed number
for heat flow, for example when doing inversion type problems.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

11. EQUATIONS AND BOUNDARY CONDITIONS FOR GEOMODELLER

In GEOMODELLER variable conductivity is crucial to our questions and time dependence can usually be
neglected. Thus, the equation of interest combines advection and diffusion terms from eq.(11) and eq.(28) in 3
dimensions. In full, this may be written as:

S
dz
dT
u
dy
dT
u
dx
dT
u c
dz
dz
dT
k d
dy
dy
dT
k d
dx
dx
dT
k d
z y x p
=
|
|

\
|
+ + +
|
|
|
|
|

\
|
|

\
|

+
|
|

\
|

+
|

\
|

(31)

This equation is a combination of the equations described in detail above. This equation is solved in
GEOMODELLER via the finite difference method.

BOUNDAY CONDITIONS TO HEAT FLOW IN GEOMODELLER: When solving eq.(31) the following
boundary conditions are applied. On the 4 sides, we apply zero heat flow boundary conditions reflecting the
assumption that all lithologies are mirrored beyond the model boundary. In the finite difference approximation,
the temperatures at the bounding nodes are simply set to the same temperatures as the 2nd and the nx-1 nodes.

Figure: The idea of zero heat flow boundary conditions in GEOMODELLER.

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
12
At the base, either basal heat flow or basal temperature can be described. Both is usually unknown and the
program allows to set either, depending on which assumption the user feels more confident about.

At the surface a constant temperature may be set, which generally is the mean annual surface temperature.

11A. PERIODIC SURFACE TEMPERATURE FLUCTUATIONS:

Temperatures at the surface of Earth vary both in time and in space: daily and annual temperature fluctuations
cause temporal variations and adiabatic gradients cause variations with surface elevation. While both may not be
of an important concern to Australian geothermal energy problems, they are both briefly considered here.

The relevance of temporal fluctuations may be studied by assuming that the diurnal or annual temperature
variation at the surface is simply described by a cosine function:

T = T cos(ft) at z = 0

where f is the frequency (i.e. 1 per day or 1 per year). For these boundary conditions, there is an analytical
solution of the heat flow equation (eq.(12)) given by:

( )
( ) ) 2 /( cos
) 2 /(
0

f z ft Te T T
f z
+ =

(32)

where T
0
is the starting temperature at t = 0, f is the frequency (e.g. 1 per year) and T is the annual
temperature amplitude (e.g. 20 C between summer maximum and mean annual temperature. The figure below
shows that such annual fluctuations only influence temperatures at depths down to about 5 metres. Thus, annual
and daily temperature fluctuation need not concern GEOMODELLER.

0 2 4 6 8 10 12
10
0
10
20
0.2 0.4 0.6
10
30
t (y) a b
T0
DT
T
(

C
)
0 0.8 1
T
(

C
)
30
z(m)
14
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5

Figure: Annual temperature variations at the surface and their effects at depth.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

11B. TOPOGRAPHY AND SURFACE ADIABATS

Temperatures at the Earth's surface vary with surface elevation. This is because the atmosphere maintains an
adiabatic temperature gradient through the expansion and compression of rapidly convecting air. This gradient is
about 6C per kilometre. Thus, this gradient will only concern areas of extreme topography and need not concern
us here. If it is of importance, then it simply can be accounted for by setting the top boundary to temperatures
according to the relevant mean annual temperature.

More important is the effect of variable surface topography on the temperatures at depth. The constant
temperature imposed to the surface of Earth by the atmosphere has the effect that the isotherms at depth mimic
to surface topography in a dampened way at depth.

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
13
This effect has been described using analytical and numerical solutions of eq.(12). Tor a topography with the
wavelength the temperature as a function of lateral distance x and depth z is described by:

) / 2 exp( ) (
) 0 ( ) , (
z x T T
z z x
=
=
(33)

Eq. (32) illustrates that the temperature peturbation mposed by topography at the surface decays exponentially
with depth and inverse proportionally to the wavelength of the topography. Inserting numbers, it may be seen
that the thermal signature of a mountain some 5 kilometres across ( = 5 km) will have decayed to about 30% of
its original amplitude at about 1 km depth. As such, most topogrphy does not have an important imprint on
isotherms at depth.

a
b
c
A
B
C

Figure: The influnece of surface topography on isotherms at depth.

The effect of topography is significantly enhanced if the isotherms are "pushed into the topography" by the advective effects
of erosion. The effect can be estimated by studying eq.(30) in combination with eq.(32).

_________________________________________________________________________________________

12. NUMERICAL APPROXIMATION FOR GEOMODELLER

For GEOMODELLER we performed a simple finite difference approximation of eq. (31). In a simple explicit
finite difference approximation (using averaged conductivities at each node) and constant spatial spacing
(constant within each direction) this can be written as:

(
(

|
|

\
|

+
|
|

\
|

+
|
|

\
|

|
|

\
|

|
|

\
| +

|
|

\
|

|
|

\
| +
+

|
|

\
|

|
|

\
| +

|
|

\
|

|
|

\
| +
+

|
|

\
|

|
|

\
| +

|
|

\
|

|
|

\
| +
=
+ + +

+ +

+ +

+ +
z
T T
u
y
T T
u
x
T T
c
z
z
T T k k
z
T T k k
y
y
T T k k
y
T T k k
x
x
T T k k
x
T T k k
S
k j i k j
z
k j i k j i
y
k j i k j i
p
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
k j i
, , 1 , , 1 , , , 1 , , , , , 1
1 , , , , 1 , , , , , , 1 , , , , 1 , ,
, 1 , , , , 1 , , , , , , 1 , , , , 1 ,
, , 1 , , , , 1 , , , , , , 1 , , , , 1
, ,
2 2
2 2
2 2

(34)

INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
14
where the components of the advection rates are all given by eq.(29). Also, the components of advection rate
must be discretised in a similar way to the discretisation of conductivities when the advection is variable through
the grid. Multiplying it all out and getting all T
i,j,k
on one side gives:

|
|
|
|
|

\
|
|
|

\
|

+ +
+

+ +
+

+ +
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|
|

\
|
|
|

\
|

+ +

+ + +
+

+ + +
+

+ + +
=
+ + +
+ + +

+ +

+ +

+ +

z
u
y
u
x
u
c
x
k k k
y
k k k
x
k k k
z
u
T
y
u
T
x
u
T c
S
z
T k T k T k T k
y
T k T k T k T k
x
T k T k T k T k
T
z
y
x
p
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
z
k j i
y
k j i
x
k j i p
k j i
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i k j i
k j i

2
1 , , , , 1 , ,
2
, 1 , , , , 1 ,
2
, , 1 , , , , 1
1 , , , 1 , , , 1
, ,
2
1 , , 1 , , 1 , , , , 1 , , , , 1 , , 1 , ,
2
, 1 , , 1 , , 1 , , , , 1 , , , , 1 , , 1 ,
2
, , 1 , , 1 , , 1 , , , , 1 , , , , 1 , , 1
, ,
2
) 2 (
2
) 2 (
2
) 2 (
2
2
2
(35)

Note that in eq.(35) (as in eq.(34) the components of advection rate are not discretised to save space on this page.
When implemented in a finite difference scheme, the components of advection must also be discretised in a
similar way to the discretisation of conductivities. This solution was implemented and iterated via a Gauss Seidl
scheme until the residuals were small. Honouring internal drill hole data or considering surface topography was
simply done by resetting of the respective nodes at every iteration. Advective terms can be turned on or off. The
amounts of numerical diffusion were tested out by changing the velocity fields. Various unit tests were used
using the analytical solutions described in the text throughout this document.

SUMMARY OF UNI TESTS: In order to test our finite difference approximation, 8 unit tests using different
initial and boundary conditions were performed. These tests are:

Unit Test 1: Initial condition: Variable conductivity (in 3 layers with k = 2, k = 5 and k = 2), no heat production;
Boundary conditions: T = 0 at z = 0; q = qbase at bottom boundary, zero heat flow on 4 sides.
Result: trilinear T-profile with slope contrasts being proportional to conductivity contrasts.
Unit Test 2: Initial condition: Variable conductivity (in 3 layers with k = 2, k = 5 and k = 2), no heat production;
Boundary conditions: T = 0 at z = 0; T = Tbase at bottom boundary, zero heat flow on 4 sides.
Result: trilinear T-profile with slope contrasts being proportional to conductivity contrasts.
Unit Test 3: Initial condition: constant conductivity, constant heat production; Boundary conditions: T = 0 at z
= 0; T = Tbase at bottom boundary, zero heat flow on 4 sides. Result: can be compared to analytical
solution eq.(24).
Unit Test 4: Initial condition: constant conductivity, step shaped distribution of heat production; Boundary
conditions: T = 0 at z = 0; q = qbase at bottom boundary, zero heat flow on 4 sides. Result: can be
compared to analytical solution eq.(25).
Unit Test 5: Honouring drill hole data: Initial condition: constant conductivity, no heat production;
Boundary conditions: T = 0 at z = 0; q = qbase at bottom boundary, zero heat flow on 4 sides,
internally fixed temperature at 1 point. Result: looks OK
Unit Test 6: Topography: Initial condition: constant conductivity, no heat production; Boundary conditions:
T = 0 at z = 0; q = qbase at bottom boundary, zero heat flow on 4 sides, fixed temperature along top
boundary. Result: looks OK
INTREPID GEOPHYSICS Principles of Heat Flow Modelling; K. Stwe, March 2008
15
Unit Test 7: Uniform Advection: Initial condition: constant conductivity, no heat production; constant
upwards advection. Boundary conditions: T = 0 at z = 0; T = Tbase at bottom boundary, zero heat
flow on 4 sides, fixed temperature along top boundary. Result: can be compared to analytical solution
eq.(30).
Unit Test 8: Localised Advection: Initial condition: constant conductivity, no heat production; constant
upwards advection. Boundary conditions: T = 0 at z = 0; T = Tbase at bottom boundary, zero heat
flow on 4 sides, fixed temperature along top boundary. Result: looks OK.

Figure: Cartoons illustrating unit tests of heat flow implementation in GEOMODELLER.