Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 50, Issue 15, pp 1555–1560 | Cite as

Mantle plumes: Why the current skepticism



The present reappraisal of the mantle plume hypothesis is perhaps the most exciting current debate in Earth science. Nevertheless, the fundamental reasons for why it has arisen are often not well understood. They are that 1) many observations do not agree with the predictions of the original model, 2) it is possible that convection of the sort required to generate thermal plumes in the Earth’s mantle does not occur, 3) so many variants of the original model have been invoked to accommodate conflicting data that the plume hypthesis is in practice no longer testable, and 4) alternative models are viable, though these have been largely neglected by researchers. Regardless of the final outcome, the present vigorous debate is to be welcomed since it is likely to stimulate new discoveries in a way that unquestioning acceptance of the conventional plume model will not.


plume volcanism hotspots convection mantle plate tectonics 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences, Science LaboratoriesUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK

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