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Plates vs Plumes: A Geological Controversy

By: Gillian R Foulger(Author)

328 pages, colour plates, illustrations, tables


Paperback | Sep 2010 | #187915 | ISBN-13: 9781405161480
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £54.95 $72/€62 approx
Hardback | Sep 2010 | #187914 | ISBN-13: 9781444336795
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £110.00 $145/€125 approx

About this book

Since the advent of the mantle plume hypothesis in 1971, scientists have been faced with the problem that its predictions are not confirmed by observation. For thirty years, the usual reaction has been to adapt the hypothesis in numerous ways. As a result, the multitude of current plume variants now amounts to an unfalsifiable hypothesis. In the early 21st century demand became relentless for a theory that can explain melting anomalies in a way that fits the observations naturally and is forward-predictive. From this the Plate hypothesis emerged – the exact inverse of the Plume hypothesis.

The Plate hypothesis attributes melting anomalies to shallow effects directly related to plate tectonics. It rejects the hypothesis that surface volcanism is driven by convection in the deep mantle. Earth Science is currently in the midst of the kind of paradigm-challenging debate that occurs only rarely in any field. Plates vs Plumes comprises its first handbook. It reviews the Plate and Plume hypotheses, including a clear statement of the former. Thereafter it follows an observational approach, drawing widely from many volcanic regions in chapters on vertical motions of Earth's crust, magma volumes, time-progressions of volcanism, seismic imaging, mantle temperature and geochemistry.

"This new textbook is ideal for a graduate-level seminar on the ongoing controversy over plumes."
– Andrew Alden – Andrew's Geology Blog, 18 November 2010

"This text is well written and easy to digest for the educated reader [...] it probably best suits advanced undergraduates and postgraduate students and would make a good text for courses in petrology, geophysics or basin analysis."
The Observatory – Newsletter of the Royal Astronomical Society, 29 November 2010


1. From plate tectonics to plumes, and back again
2. Vertical motions
3. Volcanism
4. Time progressions and relative fixity of melting anomalies
5. Seismology
6. Temperature and heat
7. Petrology and geochemistry
8. Synthesis

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Gillian Foulger is Professor of Geophysics at the University of Durham where she has worked since 1985 on earthquake seismology and plate tectonics. She lived and researched in Iceland for seven years, where she acquired a mistrust of theories that do not fit practical observations without contortion. She manages the world-famous website and is widely acclaimed for leading the global debate regarding the existence of mantle plumes. For this she was awarded the prestigious Price Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society in 2005.

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