The current state of our understanding of mantle plumes and their effect on other features within and on the Earth is reviewed The physical conditions necessary for the existence of plumes, i.e., narrow vertically oriented cylinders of reduced viscosity and density, are discussed and it is argued that these conditions occur within the mantle. Heat is believed to provide the reduction in viscosity, via thermally activated creep, and the reduction in density, via normal thermal expansion, although metasomatic plumes could occur. The heat for the plumes probably originates with the core. Theoretical and experimental models of plume structure and of plume initiation are reviewed, with special attention paid to the possibility of solitary waves propagating up the plume conduit. The suggestion that impacts of extraterrestrial bodies could initiate plumes is critically investigated and found to be implausible. Possible ways that plumes can interact with general mantle convection are reviewed. © 1991.
Loper, D. E. (1991). Mantle plumes. Tectonophysics, 187(4), 373–384. https://doi.org/10.1016/0040-1951(91)90476-9