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On the relation between basal erosion of the lithosphere and surface heat flux for continental plume tracks
  • Björn H. Heyn,
  • Clinton P. Conrad
Björn H. Heyn
Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics

Corresponding Author:b.h.heyn@geo.uio.no

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Clinton P. Conrad
Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics
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While hotspot tracks beneath thin oceanic lithosphere are visible as volcanic island chains, the plume-lithosphere interaction for thick continental or cratonic lithosphere often remains hidden due to the lack of volcanism. To identify plume tracks with missing volcanism, we characterize the amplitude and timing of surface heat flux anomalies following a plume-lithosphere interaction using mantle convection models. Our numerical results confirm an analytical relationship in which surface heat flux increases with the extent of lithosphere thinning, which is primarily controlled by on the viscosity structure of the lower lithosphere and the asthenosphere. We find that lithosphere thinning is greatest when the plate is above the plume conduit, while the maximum heat flux anomaly occurs about 40-140\,Myr later. Therefore, younger continental and cratonic plume tracks can be identified by observed lithosphere thinning, and older tracks by an increased surface heat flux, even if they lack extrusive magmatism.
16 Apr 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 7. 10.1029/2022GL098003