Mantle Plume Debate Resources
Topical ResourcesGlobal isothermal surface in the Earth's mantle Details
Cretaceous Superplume The resources linked from this page include an assortment of web- and non-web resources, published papers, abstracts, graphics, and animations. Direct links to web resources are followed by a "more info" link that gives a short description of the web resource.
MantlePlumes.org: Scholarly articles, opinion pieces, many related resources are available through this website on which interested parties discuss the nature and origin of hotspot volcanism.
Large Igneous Provinces Commision: don't miss the LIP of the Month pages
The Great Plumes Debate 2003: online version of The Geoscientist's 2003 debate of mantle plume theory. Be sure to visit the "Shorter contributions" page to get a real sense of the tenor of the debate. Links to different pages in the debate are in the column on the left, but NOTE: the initial pro-plume contribution (Saunders, Plumes – an alternative to the alternative) is incorrectly linked it should be http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/plume_alterative. Also not properly linked at all are the following:
- Saunders, Fitton, and Coogan: The Empire Strikes Back (pro-plume) http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Policy-and-Media/Online-Debates/The-Great-Plumes-Debate-2003/The-emperor-strikes-back
Teaching Activities about Hotspots
Hotspot Lesson: Mantle Plumes This lesson explains a theory on magma generation at hotspots called the mantle plume theory as well as possible ways of finding evidence to support the theory. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to a theory that scientists are actively trying to evidence or refute. Through this students will learn
Hotspot Lesson: Relative Dating This lesson explains the application of relative dating for volcanic features in the ocean. The initial lecture focuses on the concept of relative dating of island chains. This lesson includes 10 images of different volcanic stages of seamount formation as envisioned by Charles Darwin in the 1800's.
Hotspot Lesson: Hotspot Theory and Plate Velocities This activity provides students with a data set of ages of some of the Hawaiian Volcanoes and seamounts and how far they are from the active volcanism. By plotting the data on a graph and fitting the data with a line of best fit, the plate velocity can be estimated by taking the slope of the line. This lesson defines hotspot volcanoes and the major contributors to the theory. It also discusses the importance of the hotspot theory and how hotspot island and seamount chains can be used to determine plate motions through geological time.
Hotspot Lesson: Mantle Plumes This lesson explains a theory on magma generation at hotspots called the mantle plume theory as well as possible ways of finding evidence to support the theory. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to a theory that scientists are actively trying to evidence or refute. Through this students will learn about mantle tomography which helps scientists make predictions about the inside of the earth.
Hotspot Lesson: Samoan Hotspot This lesson makes comparisons between Hawaii and Samoa in an attempt to determine the volcanic origin of Samoa. The activity allows the students to calculate age estimates for the islands and seamounts of Samoa, assuming they were formed by the Pacific Plate traveling over a stationary hotspot located underneath Samoa.
Hotspot Lesson: Final Project This project is a the culminating assignment for a series of activities about hotspots and plate motions.
Are you in a hotspot? This activity is a PowerPoint module designed to help students differentiate hotspot island chains from volcanic island arc systems. The focus sights for this activity are the Society Island hotspot chain and the Caribbean island arc system. Using map images, students are asked to describe and differentiate the topography and geologic features of the two tectonic settings. Students compare the difference in volcanism and seismicity of the two locations.
Mantle Convection and Plumes This collection of animations and images provides examples of the current state of knowledge and research into the nature of mantle convection and the origins of plumes.
Plate Tectonic Movements Visualizations: This collection provides access to a wide array of visualizations and supporting material that can be used effectively to teach students about plate tectonic movements.
In addition to the articles below, MantlePlumes.org has an extensive listing of articles relevant to the debate over the origin of hotspots from 2005 to present.
Several key historical papers in development of mantle plume theory:
Wilson, J.T., 1963, A possible origin of the Hawaiian Islands, Canadian Journal of Physics, v. 41, p. 863-870.
Morgan, W.J., 1971, Convection plumes in the lower mantle, Nature, v. 230, p. 42-43.
Campbell, I.H., and R.W. Griffiths, 1990, Implications of mantle plume structure for the evolution of flood basalts, Earth Planetary Science Letters, v. 99, p. 79-93.
Brief summaries of each side of mantle plume debate:
DePaolo, D.J., and Manga, M., 2003, Deep origin of hotspots; the mantle plume model: Science, v. 300, p. 920-921.
Foulger, G.R. and J.H. Natland, Is "hotspot" volcanism a consequence of plate tectonics?, Science, 300, 921-922, 2003.
Niu, Y., 2005, On the great plume debate, Chinese Science Bulletin, v. Vol. 50, p. 1537-1540. [introduction to following papers]
Davies, G.H., 2005, A case for mantle plumes, Chinese Science Bulletin, v. Vol. 50, p. 1541-1554.
Foulger, G.R., 2005, Mantle plumes: Why the current skepticism?, Chinese Science Bulletin, v. Vol. 50, p. 1555-1560.
The above series of three articles is available at Yaoling Niu's web site: http://www.dur.ac.uk/yaoling.niu/MyReprints-pdf/GreatPlulmeDebate-ChineseSciBull2005.pdf
Current snapshot of plume theory:
Sleep, N.H., 2007, Origins of the plume hypothesis and some of its implications, in Plates, Plumes, and Planetary Processes, G.R. Foulger and D.M. Jurdy, eds., Geological Society of America Special Paper 430, p. 29-45.
Campbell, I.H., 2007, Testing the plume theory, Chemical Geology, v. 241, p.153-176.
Courtillot, V., Davaille, A., Besse, J., Stock, J., 2003. Three distinct types of hotspots in Earth's mantle. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 205, 295–308.
Nolet, G., Allen, R., and Zhao, D., 2007, Mantle plume tomography, Chemical Geology, v. 241, p. 248-263.
Farnetani, C.G. and Samuel, H., 2005, Beyond the thermal plume paradigm, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 32, n. 7, L07311, doi:10.1029/2005GL022360.
Tarduno,J.A., On the motion of Hawaii and other mantle plumes, Chemical Geology, v. 241, p. 234-247.
Selected current arguments against mantle plume theory and some proposed site-specific alternatives
Foulger, G.R., 2002, Plumes or plate tectonic processes?, Astronomy and Geophysics, v. 43, p. 19-23.
Anderson, D.L., and Natland, J.H., 2005, A brief history of the plume hypothesis and its competitors: Concept and controversy. in Foulger, G.R., Natland, J.H., Presnall, D.C., and Anderson, D.L., eds., Plates, plumes, and paradigms: Geological Society of America Special Paper 388, p. 119-145.
Foulger, G.R., 2007, The "Plate" model for the genesis of melting anomalies, in Plates, Plumes, and Planetary Processes, G.R. Foulger and D.M. Jurdy, eds., Geological Society of America Special Paper 430, p. 1-28.
Anderson, D.L., 2005, Scoring hotspots: The plume and plate paradigms, in Foulger, G.R., Natland, J.H., Presnall, D.C., and Anderson, D.L., eds., Plates, plumes, and paradigms: Geological Society of America Special Paper 388, p. 31-54.
Christiansen, R.L., Foulger, G.R., and Evans, J.R., 2002, Upper mantle origin of the Yellowstone hotspot, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 114, p. 1245-1256.
Foulger, G.R., J.H. Natland and D.L. Anderson, 2005, Genesis of the Iceland melt anomaly by plate tectonic processes, in Foulger, G.R., Natland, J.H., Presnall, D.C., and Anderson, D.L., eds., Plates, plumes, and paradigms: Geological Society of America Special Paper 388, p. 595-625.