News FocusGeophysics

The Great African Plume Emerges as a Tectonic Player

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Science  09 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5425, pp. 187-188
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5425.187

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A massive upwelling of hot rock beneath southern Africa may be shaping the continent as it cools Earth's core, in the flip side of plate tectonics. At the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Boston and in recent publications, geophysicists report signs that a blob of hot rock several thousand kilometers wide at its base, long known to lurk beneath southern Africa, extends toward the surface, spanning the mantle from the core to the volcanic hotspot of northeastern Africa. Its ascent could be pushing up much of southern Africa, and it could be feeding a dozen or more volcanic hotspots across the continent.