Geophysics

Broadening the source for hot spots

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Science  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6255, pp. 1501-1502
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6255.1501-f

Certain volcanoes are fed by plumes of hot material originating at the very base of Earth's rocky mantle. Dynamic arguments suggest that the conduits feeding these hot-spot volcanoes should be narrow, because of the relatively small areas over which they erupt. French and Romanowicz use an improved whole-mantle seismic imaging technique to show that plumes are actually quite broad. Their surprising results imply that plumes are long-lived and may have a thermochemical origin. The vertical orientation of conduits suggests sluggish convection deep within the mantle.

Nature 10.1038/nature14876 (2015).

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