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Plates vs Plumes

A Geological Controversy

Gillian R. Foulger

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Naturwissenschaften, Medizin, Informatik, Technik / Geologie


Since the advent of the mantle plume hypothesis in 1971, scientistshave been faced with the problem that its predictions are notconfirmed by observation. For thirty years, the usual reaction hasbeen to adapt the hypothesis in numerous ways. As a result, themultitude of current plume variants now amounts to an unfalsifiablehypothesis. In the early 21st century demand became relentless for a theorythat can explain melting anomalies in a way that fits theobservations naturally and is forward-predictive. From this thePlate hypothesis emerged-the exact inverse of the Plumehypothesis. The Plate hypothesis attributes melting anomalies toshallow effects directly related to plate tectonics. It rejects thehypothesis that surface volcanism is driven by convection in thedeep mantle. Earth Science is currently in the midst of the kind ofparadigm-challenging debate that occurs only rarely in any field.This volume comprises its first handbook. It reviews the Plate andPlume hypotheses, including a clear statement of the former.Thereafter it follows an observational approach, drawing widelyfrom many volcanic regions in chapters on vertical motions ofEarth's crust, magma volumes, time-progressions of volcanism,seismic imaging, mantle temperature and geochemistry. This text: * Deals with a paradigm shift in Earth Science - some say themost important since plate tectonics * Is analogous to Wegener's The Origin of Continents andOceans * Is written to be accessible to scientists and students from allspecialities This book is indispensable to Earth scientists from allspecialties who are interested in this new subject. It is suitableas a reference work for those teaching relevant classes, and anideal text for advanced undergraduates and graduate studentsstudying plate tectonics and related topics. Visit Gillian's own website at


(Bull Volcanol, 3 April 2012)
"Nevertheless I strongly recommend this book both forstudents and researchers. It is ideal for use in classroomdiscussion projects, or in "lunch time discussion"meetings. It is clearly written and well illustrated and includeshundreds of useful references as recent as 2010."
(Pure and Applied Geophysics, 1April 2013)
"As such, it is a valuable work for advanced undergraduateand graduate students, but also for researchers from manyspecialties in geology, geophysics, geochemistry andgeography."
(Geobulletin, 1 March 2011)
"It is highly recommended to all OUGS members, who couldconsider reading the first and last chapters, together with one ortwo of the main chapters, as a minimum." (Open UniversityGeological Society Journal, 1 November 2011)"In general, I found the book crisply and clearly written, easy toread, and liberally illustrated. It is also a wonderful summary ofa wide range of volcanic provinces in time and space, as well as aprovocative review of what we think we know and don't know ofPlanet Earth and deep mantle dynamics. It will be an invaluableresource for teachers of Earth science, ranging fromgeomorphologists to volcanologists."
(Janet Tanaka, 2011)
"This is knee-deep geophysics, but too fascinating to put down.As the title says, there are conflicting views of how and why theearth recycles itself...very strong views. . . It goes to greatlengths to explain the theories of continental drift through platetectonics that took half a century to be accepted by mainstreamgeology."
(, 2011)
"This new textbook is ideal for a graduate-level seminar on theongoing controversy over plumes."
(CurrentScience, 1 January 2011)
"I have much pleasure in recommending this book, a distillationof global geodynamics information and ideas by a true leader in thefield, for the libraries of institutions and individuals."
(Journal of the Geological Society ofIndia, 1 March 2011)
"At the end I may say that this is must read book for igneouspetrologists and students."
(Mantleplumes, 2011)
"One cannot help being impressed by the breadth of materialpresented in this book . . . in concluding this review I have toadmit to being impressed by the book even though my own work comesin for a fair amount of bashing in it. I was struck by theparallels between the plume controversy and the granitecontroversy, which in various ways dominated igneous petrology inthe first half of the twentieth century."

"This text is well written and easy to digest for the educatedreader. Bullet points make it easy to skim read and pick thesections that interest you. It probably best suits advancedundergraduates and postgraduate students and would make a good textfor courses in petrology, geophysics, or basin analysis." (TheObservatory, 1 April 2011) "This new textbook is ideal for agraduate-level seminar on the ongoing controversy over plumes."
s Geology Blog, 18 November 2010)
(Andrew Alden - Andrew'
(The Observatory -Newsletter of the Royal Astronomical Society, 29 November 2010)
"This text is well written and easy to digest for the educatedreader. . . it probably best suits advanced undergraduates andpostgraduate students and would make a good text for courses inpetrology, geophysics or basin analysis."
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Geomorphologie, Geophysik, Earth Sciences, Geomorphology, Geophysics, Geowissenschaften