Hot Times in Tectonophysics: Mantle Plume Dynamics and Magmatic Perturbances

Vrishin R. Soman


Earth’s dynamic lithospheric (plate) motions often are not obvious when considered in relation to the temporal stability of the crust. Seismic radiology experiments confirm that the extreme pressures and temperatures in the mantle, and to a lesser extent the asthenosphere, result in a heterogeneously viscous rheology. Occasionally, magmatic fluid makes its way through the lithospheric plate to the surface, appearing typically as a volcano, fissure eruption, or lava flow. When occurring away from the edges of plate boundaries, these long-lasting suppliers of lava, present over millions of years, are called mantle plumes, or ‘hotspots.’ Conventional definitions of mantle plumes note that they are stationary with respect to each other and the motion of the plates, passively tracing historical plate motion in volcanic formations such as the Hawaiian-Emperor island arc – the Plate Model. In this model, mantle plumes primarily occur as a consequence of lithospheric extension.

Recent empirical studies, however, have demonstrated that hotspots are not as geographically consistent as previously thought. They may move in relation to each other, as well as contribute actively toward lithospheric plate motions – the Plume Model. There is a lively, ongoing debate between the Plate and Plume hypotheses, essentially seeking to determine if mantle flow is merely a passive reaction to lithospheric plate motion (Plate Model), or whether plume activity in part drives this motion (Plume Model). More likely, it is a combination of passive and active mantle plume components that better describe the comprehensive behavior of these important and distinctive landscape forming features.

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Environment and Ecology

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.

Copyright © Macrothink Institute   ISSN 2157-6092