Scientific debate: Mantle plumes
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This page first made public: May 17, 2010
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Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment: Assignment with suggested readings (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 146kB Feb26 10)
- Instructors Notes:
Other debate formats might be considered. If students enter the activity with a strong enough predisposition toward one side of the debate or another they could even be assigned to argue the side opposite their own perspective, developing the importance of understanding all sides of any issue.
The mantleplumes.org website http://www.mantleplumes.org is a well organized and well presented resource for this debate. The site contains substantially more pages from the plume-skeptic perspective, but the webmaster encourages contributions from all sides and there are some excellent pro-plume and neutral pages as well. Many of the pages offer concise arguments that students may find easier to follow, and they generally have good reference lists. There are also other resources including bibliographies of recent, foundation, and pro-plume and plume-skeptic papers. It is fair to point out to students that the site is disproportionally contributed to by the plume-skeptic community; but it could be pointed out that, for the purpose of the debate, this somewhat counterbalances the published literature which is predominantly pro-plume, and frequently does not acknowledge a debate.
Many of the recommended readings can be found online as pdfs by searching for a portion of the title in quotations. Many are available at mantleplumes.org. The GSA Special Paper 430 papers chapters are available there in manuscript form; the 388 papers are no longer available for free download at this site.
Chapters in 2007 GSA Special Paper 430: Plate, Plumes, and Planetary Processes include a feature that may be valuable in exploring this debate, comment and reply contributions at the end of each chapter. Some feature a good back-and-forth that helps establish the nature of the debate (e.g., the chapter on the Columbia River basalts by Hooper et al., p.635-656 with discussion p. 656-668)
Additional resources useful for in-class debates: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/roleplaying/index.html
- Solution Set:
- The Plume Controversy–Getting Students Engaged with Science and the Conduct of Science: Brennan Jordan's presentation at the 2010 Deep Earth workshop.