Plate Tectonics: A whole new way of looking at your planet
by Keyword

The Book  
Table of Contents
In the Beginning
The Tectonic Plates
Mount St. Helen
How Plates Move
Plate Boundaries
A Changing Earth
Pangaea - All Lands
Mid-Ocean Ridges
An Ocean is Born
The Birth of an Island
Mountain Ranges
Subduction Zones
Island Arcs
The Ring of Fire
Hot Spots
Mantle Plumes
Origin of Life Theories
Global Climate
Other Worlds
Welcome to Your World

Mantle Plumes

Current research suggests that mantle plumes originate some 1,800 miles beneath the earth’s surface, where the liquid-metal outer core meets the lowermost part of the rocky mantle. Seismic experiments indicate that the core is not smoothly spherical but has many irregularities, perhaps analogous to the mountain ranges on the earth’s surface. It could be that these core irregularities direct heat flows to produce rising plumes of molten rock capable of penetrating the thick mantle and even reaching the earth’s surface.

There is evidence to suggest that mantle plumes have been responsible for, or have played a major role in, the breaking-up of supercontinents such as Pangea and Gondwanaland. Some scientists have also postulated that a major mantle plume event could have been the cause of the mass extinction’s that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago and included the demise of the dinosaurs.
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