Plume-lithosphere interaction at craton margins throughout Earth history

W. Gorczyk, D. R. Mole, S. J. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Web of Science)


Intraplate continental magmatism represents a fundamental mechanism in Earth's magmatic, thermal, chemical and environmental evolution. It is a process intimately linked with crustal development, large-igneous provinces, metallogeny and major global environmental catastrophes. As a result, understanding the interactions of continental magmas through time is vital in understanding their effect on the planet. The interaction of mantle plumes with the lithosphere has been shown to significantly affect the location and form of continental magmatism, but only at modern mantle conditions. In this study, we perform numerical modelling for Late Archean (1600. °C), Paleoproterozoic (1550. °C), Meso-Neoproteroic (1500. °C) and Phanerozoic (1450. °C) mantle potential temperatures (Tp) to assess the time-space magmatic effects of ambient-mantle- and plume- lithosphere interaction over Earth's thermal history. Within these experiments, we impinge a mantle plume, with a time-appropriate Tp, onto a 'step-like' lithosphere, to evaluate the effect of craton margins on continental magmatism through time. The results of this modelling demonstrate that lithospheric architecture controls the volume and location of continental magmatism throughout Earth history, irrespective of ambient mantle or plume Tp. In all plume models, mantle starting plumes (diameter 300. km) impinge on the base of the lithosphere, and spread laterally over >. 1600. km, flowing into the shallowest mantle, and producing the highest volume magmas. In ambient-mantle only models, Archean and Paleoproterozoic Tp values yield significant sub-lithospheric melt volumes, resulting in 'passive' geodynamic emplacement of basaltic magmatic provinces, whereas no melts are extracted at >. 100. km for Meso-Neoproterozoic and Phanerozoic Tp. This indicates a major transition in non-subduction related continental magmatism from plume and ambient mantle to a plume-dominated source around the Mesoproterozoic. While the experiments presented here show the variation in plume-lithosphere interaction through time, the consistency in melt localisation indicates the lithosphere has been a first-order control on continental magmatism since its establishment in the Mesoarchean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-694
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Plume-lithosphere interaction at craton margins throughout Earth history'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this