Not So Hot "Hot Spots" in the Oceanic Mantle

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Science  05 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4977, pp. 107-111
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4977.107


Excess volcanism and crustal swelling associated with hot spots are generally attributed to thermal plumes upwelling from the mantle. This concept has been tested in the portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between 34° and 45° (Azores hot spot). Peridotite and basalt data indicate that the upper mantle in the hot spot has undergone a high degree of melting relative to the mantle elsewhere in the North Atlantic. However, application of various geothermometers suggests that the temperature of equilibration of peridotites in the mantle was lower, or at least not higher, in the hot spot than elsewhere. The presence of H2O-rich metasomatized mantle domains, inferred from peridotite and basalt data, would lower the melting temperature of the hot spot mantle and thereby reconcile its high degree ofmelting with the lack of a mantle temperature anomaly. Thus, some so-called hot spots might be melting anomalies unrelated to abnormally high mantle temperature or thermal plumes.

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