The advent of plate tectonics in the 1960s provided a theoretical framework that unified the Earth sciences and made sense of phenomena that had previously defied rational explanation. At a stroke it explained over 90% of volcanism on Earth as being the product of the creation (at mid-ocean ridges) or destruction (at subduction zones) of tectonic plates. But there remained a significant number of volcanic areas, notably Hawaii, that didn't fit into the basic plate tectonic framework. In 1971, W.J. Morgan proposed that J. Tuzo Wilson's relatively fixed mantle hotspots were manifestations of ‘convection plumes’ rising from the deep mantle,...

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