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By Wolfgang Bangerth, Juliane Dannberg, Menno Fraters, Rene Gassmoeller, Anne Glerum, Timo Heister, Robert Myhill, John Naliboff

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A finite element parallel code to simulate problems in thermal convection in both 2D and 3D models.

ASPECT is a code to simulate problems in thermal convection. Its primary focus is on the simulation of processes in the earth's mantle, but its design is more general than that. The primary aims developing ASPECT are:

  • Usability and extensibility: Simulating mantle convection is a difficult problem characterized not only by complicated and nonlinear material models but, more generally, by a lack of understanding which parts of a much more complicated model are really necessary to simulate the defining features of the problem. This uncertainty requires a code that is easy to extend by users to support the community in determining what the essential features of convection in the earth's mantle are.
  • Modern numerical methods: We build ASPECT on numerical methods that are at the forefront of research in all areas -- adaptive mesh refinement, linear and nonlinear solvers, stabilization of transport-dominated processes. This implies complexity in our algorithms, but also guarantees highly accurate solutions while remaining efficient in the number of unknowns and with CPU and memory resources.
  • Parallelism: Many convection processes of interest are characterized by small features in large domains -- for example, mantle plumes of a few tens of kilometers diameter in a mantle almost 3,000 km deep. Such problems require hundreds or thousands of processors to work together. ASPECT is designed from the start to support this level of parallelism.
  • Building on others' work: Building a code that satisfies above criteria from scratch would likely require several 100,000 lines of code. This is outside what any one group can achieve on academic time scales. Fortunately, most of the functionality we need is already available in the form of widely used, actively maintained, and well tested and documented libraries. Thus, ASPECT builds immediately on top of the deal.II library for everything that has to do with finite elements, geometries, meshes, etc.; and, through deal.II on Trilinos for parallel linear algebra and on p4est for parallel mesh handling.
  • Community: We believe that a large project like ASPECT can only be successful as a community project. Every contribution is welcome and we want to help you so we can improve ASPECT together.

ASPECT is published under the GNU GPL v2 or newer license.

Release Notes

aspect-2.4.0.tar.gz [2022-07-24]

  • New: ASPECT now requires deal.II 9.3.0 or newer, and cmake 3.1.0 or newer.
    (Timo Heister)

  • New: The matrix-free GMG Stokes solver now works for problems with free-surface boundaries and elasticity.
    (Jiaqi Zhang, Anne Glerum, Timo Heister, John Naliboff)

  • New: The matrix-free GMG Stokes preconditioner is now implemented for the Newton solver.
    (Timo Heister, Menno Fraters, Jiaqi Zhang)

  • New: Visualization postprocessors now record the physical units of the quantity they compute, and this information is also output into visualization files with a sufficiently new version of deal.II.
    (Wolfgang Bangerth)

  • New: Where possible, when using large data tables as input (e.g., for initial conditions specified as tables), these data are now stored only once on each node in memory areas that is accessible by all MPI processes on that node.
    (Wolfgang Bangerth)

  • New: There is now a new material model for melting in the lowermost mantle. It can be used to reproduce the results of Dannberg et al. (2021).
    (Juliane Dannberg)

  • New: The geoid postprocessor can now handle a deforming mesh, in addition to the already existing option from the dynamic topography postprocessor output.
    (Maaike Weerdesteijn, Rene Gassmoeller, Jacky Austermann)

  • New: There is now a 'static' option for the temperature field that is set-up similarly to the 'static' option for compositional fields. This allows the
    temperature field to be constant over time so you can still advect and build up elastic stresses.
    (Rebecca Fildes, Magali Billen)

  • Changed: The least squares particle interpolation plugins now provide a bound preserving slope limiter that respects local bounds on each cell.
    (Mack Gregory, Gerry Puckett, Rene Gassmoeller)

  • New: Add an advection field method that advects a compositional field according to Darcy's Law.
    (Daniel Douglas)

  • New: The material model 'dynamic_friction' has been integrated into a new rheology model friction_models that can be used together with the
    visco_plastic material model.
    (Esther Heckenbach)

  • New: ASPECT now has a ThermodynamicTableLookup equation of state plugin, which allows material models to read in one or more Perple_X or HeFESTo table files.
    (Bob Myhill)

  • Changed: The initial composition model called 'ascii data' can now read in 3d ascii datasets into a 2d model and slice the dataset in a user controlled
    plane. This allows it to make high-resolution 2d models of problems that use observational data (such as seismic tomography models).
    (Juliane Dannberg, Rene Gassmoeller)

  • New: Added a new postprocessor which computes the parameter "Mobility" following Lourenco et al., 2020.
    (Elodie Kendall, Rene Gassmoeller, Anne Glerum and Bob Myhill)

  • Improved: Particle operations have been significantly accelerated, in particular in combination with a recent deal.II version (9.4.0 or newer).
    (Rene Gassmoeller)

  • New: Add a benchmark for load induced flexure with options for specifying sediment and rock material infilling the flexural moat.
    (Daniel Douglas)

  • New: ASPECT now has a cookbook that uses the gravity postprocessor to compute gravity generated by S40RTS-based mantle density variations.
    (Cedric Thieulot)

  • New: ASPECT now has a cookbook that shows how velocities can be prescribed at positions specified by an ASCII input file.
    (Bob Myhill)

  • New: There is now a cookbook of kinematically driven oceanic subduction in 2D with isoviscous materials and without temperature effects. The cookbook model setup is based on Quinquis (2014).
    (Anne Glerum)

  • New: There is now a cookbook that visualizes the phase diagram from results of a model run. This includes examples from the Visco-Plastic and Steinberger material model.
    (Haoyuan Li and Magali Billen)

  • New: There is now a cookbook that reproduces convection models with a phase function from Christensen and Yuen, 1985.
    (Juliane Dannberg)

  • Fixed: Many bugs, see link below for a complete list.
    (Many authors. Thank you!).

A complete list of all changes and their authors can be found at