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Ghelichkhan, S.; Bunge, H-P. (2018): The adjoint equations for thermochemical compressible mantle convection: derivation and verification by twin experiments. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society A-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 474, No. 2220, 20180329
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The adjoint method is an efficient way to obtain gradient information in a mantle convection model relative to past flow structure, allowing one to retrodict mantle flow from observations of the present-day mantle state. While adjoint equations for isochemical mantle flow have been derived for both incompressible and compressible flows, here we extend the method to thermochemical mantle flow models, and present thermochemical adjoint equations in the elastic-liquid approximation. We verify the method with twin experiments, and retrodict the flow history of a thermochemical reference model (reference twin) assuming for the final state, either a consistent thermochemical interpretation, using the thermochemical adjoint equations, or an inconsistent purely thermal interpretation, using the isochemical adjoint equations. The consistent simulation correctly retrodicts the flow evolution of the reference twin. The inconsistent case, instead, restores a false flow history whereby internal buoyancy forces and convectively maintained topography are overestimated. Because the cost function is reduced in either case, our results suggest that the adjoint method can be used to link assumptions on the role of chemical mantle heterogeneity to geologic inferences of dynamic topography, thus providing additional means to test hypotheses on mantle composition and dynamics.