Abstract

Kevin Burke’s original and thought-provoking contributions have been published steadily for the past 60 years, and more than a decade ago he set out to resolve how plate tectonics and mantle plumes interact by proposing a simple conceptual model, which we will refer to as the Burkian Earth. On the Burkian Earth, mantle plumes take us from the deepest mantle to sub-lithospheric depths, where partial melting occurs, and to the surface, where hotspot lavas erupt today, and where large igneous provinces and kimberlites have erupted episodically in the past. The arrival of a plume head contributes to continental break-up and punctuates plate tectonics by creating and modifying plate boundaries. Conversely, plate tectonics makes an essential contribution to the mantle through subduction. Slabs restore mass to the lowermost mantle and are the triggering mechanism for plumes that rise from the margins of the two large-scale low shear-wave velocity structures in the lowermost mantle, which Burke christened TUZO and JASON. Situated just above the core–mantle boundary, beneath Africa and the Pacific, these are stable and antipodal thermochemical piles, which Burke reasons represent the immediate after-effect of the moon-forming event and the final magma ocean crystallization.

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