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::A glance at today's paper::  
Burov, E. & T Gerya, Asymmetric three-dimensional topography over mantle plumes, Nature 513, 85–89 (04 September 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13703

Don L. Anderson

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Dear WM, Although the paper "Burov, E. & T Gerya, Asymmetric three-dimensional topography over mantle plumes, Nature 513, 85–89 (04 September 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13703" purports to show that plumes can break up continents if the continent is pre-weakened by plate tectonic forces, what it actually shows is that if one artificially inserts a 200 km sphere below the continent with an excess temperature of 200-600°C then one can break a pre-weakened continent. The 200-km sphere appears out of nowhere, as a deus ex machina. The same method was used by Cordery et al to obtain melting under thick plates.–Don Anderson


Dear WM, It is curious that the same tomographic features have been interpreted in completely different ways. Faster than average seismic wave-speeds in the TZ have been considered to indicate ancient subducted slabs (Piromallo & Morelli, 2003; Handy et al., 2010). The same features, on the other hand, have also been interpreted as a volatile-free mantle plume head trapped in the TZ (Lavecchia & Bell, 2012; Bell et al., 2013).– Michele Lustrino

Dear WM, Interesting article in the most recent Economist publicising a Nobel laureate’s jaundiced views on “luxury journals” (Science, Nature and Cell). Seems like the groundswell of discontent is growing.–Andy Moore