Hotspot Volcanism: Thermal Plume

What is a volcanic hotspot?

A volcanic "hotspot" is an area in the mantle from which heat rises as a thermal plume from deep in the Earth. High heat and lower pressure at the base of the lithosphere (tectonic plate) facilitates melting of the rock. This melt, called magma, rises through cracks and erupts to form volcanoes. As the tectonic plate moves over the stationary hot spot, the volcanoes are rafted away and new ones form in their place. This results in chains of volcanoes, such as the Hawaiian Islands.

Narrated by Roger Groom, Earth-science educator at Mount Tabor Middle School, Portland, OR

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  • Anomalous heat at the core-mantle boundary causes transfer of heat through mantle
  • Rising heat causes convection in the mantle
  • Concentrated heat and lowered pressure creates magma
  • Magma forces its way through the tectonic plate through cracks, erupting at the surface
  • The tectonic plate moves over the hot conduit carrying volcanoes away

Total Time: 14s
Level: Novice

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