Penrose Conference

Plume IV: Beyond the Plume Hypothesis
Tests of the plume paradigm and alternatives

August 25th – 29th, 2003, Hveragerdi, Iceland



With the accumulation of ever-superior data from hotspots and volcanic provinces, it is becoming increasingly clear that the hypothesis that attributes them to hot plumes upwelling from great depth fits many observations poorly, and that apparent paradoxes abound. Radically different, alternative models are proliferating, which include propagating cracks and melting anomalies, upper mantle heterogeneity, local convection, recycling of subducted slabs in the upper mantle, and Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities. These ideas represent departures from conventional views in that they assume that hotspot volcanism is closely tied to plate tectonic processes at shallow depth rather than an entirely different convection mode involving deep upwelling. Thus, if substantiated, these ideas may lead to a first-order paradigm shift. This conference will bring together scientists who wish to be involved in developing fundamentally new models for volcanic provinces, innovative new ideas, and the experiments required to test them. The conference will emphasize petrology, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, modeling of midplate volcanism and comparisons with plate boundary magmatism. Topics for presentations and discussion will include:


The conference will be held in the village of Hveragerdi, south Iceland. Iceland is the type example of a ridge-centered hotspot, and a current focus of debate between plume and non-plume models. It is the largest subaerial exposure of spreading plate boundary on Earth, and contains over 15 spreading segments, two complex transform zones and 35 active volcanoes. The conference venue is within the extinct Grensdalur volcano and hot-spring field, a component of the Reykjanes-Langjokull-South Iceland ridge-ridge-transform triple junction. Excellent hotel and conference facilities are available. One half-day and one full-day field trip will be conducted during the conference to tour the three branches of this triple junction. The cost of the five-day conference, including room, board and field trips, is not expected to exceed $1,300.

Hotel Ork.
The spiral slide of the outdoor geothermally heated swimming pool is visible on the left

Hveragerdi looking north over the Grensdalur geothermal area and central volcano

APPLY BY MAY 10TH, 2003 (Click here for detailed instructions how to apply)

Potential participants should send a letter to one of the conveners, including a brief statement of interests and anticipated contribution to the conference, and an extended abstract if an oral or poster presentation is offered. Discussion will be emphasized at the meeting, so the number of oral presentations will be limited. Preference will be given to contributions that focus on new models, rather than solely criticism of old ones. Attendance will be limited to 60 people. Graduate students are encouraged to apply, and some funds will be available to help offset costs for students and delegates in need. Requests for support should be made at the time of application.


A 4-day postconference field trip will be offered from August 30th to September 2nd. The cost of this optional fieldtrip is expected to be around $500 per person.


GSA is committed to making Penrose Conferences accessible to all. If you require special arrangements or have special dietary concerns, please contact one of the conveners.


Another meeting, focusing on alternatives to mantle plume theories, is taking place in Cardiff, September 2003.