Do mantle plumes cause continental breakup?

A key question in the study of volcanic continental margins is whether their huge volumes of magmatism are generated by mantle plumes (temperature and/or composition anomalies in the mantle), lithospheric chemical anomalies or by enhanced mantle flow. These various mechanisms are expected to result in different temperal-spatial patterns of magmatism along a given rifted margin. By applying a finite element model to account for mantle melting during breakup, we were able to show that, provided factors such as rift history are considered, thermal mantle plumes can explain the amount and properties of magmatism observed long the margins of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. I am currently collaborating with industry (ION-GX) to use specialist data to further test these ideas and gauge their implications for natural reserves.

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