Lateral Motion of Mantle Plumes in 3-D Geodynamic Models

Mingming Li, Shijie Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


It has been proposed that hot spot tracks are caused by moving rigid plates above relatively stationary hot spots. However, the fixity of hot spots remains under debate. Here, we perform 3-D very high resolution (<25 km laterally) global mantle convection models with realistic convection vigor to investigate the lateral motion of mantle plumes. We find that the lateral motion of plumes beneath the Pacific plate is statistically similar to that beneath the Indo-Atlantic plates. In the past 80 Ma, the majority (>90%) of plumes move laterally with an average speed of 0–20 mm/year under the no-net-rotation reference frame, and there are a small portion (~10–20%) of plumes whose lateral motion is less than 5 mm/year. The geodynamic modeling results are statistically in a good agreement with the hot spot motions in the last 5 Ma estimated from observation-based kinematic models. Our results suggest a small-to-moderate (0–20 mm/year) lateral motion of most plume-induced hot spots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4685-4693
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 16 2019


  • hot spot track
  • lateral motion
  • mantle convection
  • mantle plume
  • numerical modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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