earth's heat flow
finite difference schemes
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract A preliminary problem to solve in the set-up of a mathematical model simulating a geophysical process is the choice of a suitable discrete scheme to approximate the governing differential equations. This paper presents a simple technique to test finite difference schemes used in the modeling of geophysical processes occurring in a geological structure. This technique consists in generating analytical solutions similar to the ones characterizing a geophysical process, given general information on some relevant parameters. Useful information for the choice of the discrete scheme to employ in the mathematical model simulating the original geophysical process can be obtained from the comparison between the analytical solution and the approximated numerical solutions generated by means of different discrete schemes. Two classes of numerical examples approximating the differential equation that governs the steady state earth's heat flow have been treated using three different finite differences schemes. The first class of examples deals with media whose phenomenological parameters vary as continuous space functions; the second class, instead, deals with media whose phenomenological parameters vary as discontinuous space functions. The finite difference schemes that have been utilized are: Centered Finite Difference Scheme (CDS), Arithmetic Mean Scheme (AMS), and Harmonic Mean Scheme (HMS). The numerical simulations showed that: the CDS may yield physically inconsistent solutions if the lattice internodal distance is too large, but in case of phenomenological parameters varying as a continuous function, this pitfall can be avoided increasing the lattice node refinement. In case of phenomenological parameters varying as a discontinuous function, instead, the CDS may yield physically inconsistent solutions for any lattice-node refinement. The HMS produced good results for both classes of examples showing to be a scheme suitable to model situations like these.
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