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Massive igneous activity across a 2000-km- diameter region accompanied the continental breakup that generated the North Atlantic Ocean. I outline the evidence which suggests that the mag-matism was caused by passive upwelling and decompression melting of asthenospheric mantle which was 150-200 °C hotter than normal. The anomalously hot mantle was introduced by the ini-tiation of the Iceland plume shortly before continen-tal breakup. Although the melt was caused by passive upwelling beneath the rifts, initiation of the mantle plume probably triggered the breakup by introducing regional uplift.

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