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Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 www.elsevier.


The intensity, occurrence, and duration of superplume events and eras over geological time
Dallas H. Abbotta,*, Ann E. Isleyb
b a Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY 10964, USA Department of Earth Sciences, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126, USA

Abstract We define the characteristics of plume events that can be called superplumes. Using the surface area of the smallest oceanic plateau generated during the Cretaceous superplume era, we define a cutoff surface area for superplume flood basalts of 5410,000 km2. We show that the maximum widths of feeder dikes of plume lavas are linearly related to the square root of the surface area covered by their flood basalts. From this we derive a cutoff: the widest feeder dikes of a superplume event must be 570 Æ 4 m wide. All high Mg rocks as defined by Isley and Abbott [J. Geol. (2001)] are superplume rocks. Layered intrusions formed by superplumes have either high abundances of platinum group elements and/or chromium. We use all of the data from the superplume proxies: flood basalts, dike swarms, high Mg rocks, and layered intrusions to define the duration of superplume eras over Earth history. Over two thirds of the superplume eras last less than 8 million years. We find no significant difference between the average duration of Archean (13 Æ 7 Ma) and Phanerozoic (12 Æ 3Ma) superplume eras. Finally, we use our data on maximum dike widths and flood basalt surface area to construct estimates of the overall surface area covered by lava during individual superplume events over the last 2.9 Ga. We find that the largest Precambrian superplume events erupted at least 10 times more lava than the largest Phanerozoic superplume event, covering a minimum of 14–18% of the planet. Between 1.7 and 2.9 Ga, there were enough large Precambrian superplume events to completely resurface the planet. We also find evidence for many superplume events earlier than 2.9 Ga, but due to a lack of data on maximum widths of feeder dikes, we cannot estimate the relative sizes of most of these events. # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

* Corresponding author. Fax: +1-914-365-8156. E-mail address: (D.H. Abbott).
0264-3707/02/$ - see front matter # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S0264-3707(02)00024-8


D.H. Abbott, A.E. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307

1. Introduction We know that the interior of the early Earth had a higher content of radioactive elements. As a result, the core and mantle were hotter and melted more extensively. Our samples of these high degree melts are komatiites and other high Mg rocks (Arndt and Nisbet, 1982; Isley and Abbott, 2002). Previously, we have shown that these high degree melts had potential temperatures that decayed exponentially over time (Abbott et al., 1994), with a decay rate like that predicted independently from the radioactive element contents of chondritic meteorites (Wasserburg et al., 1964). Overall, the potential temperatures of high Mg rocks (and concurrent mid-ocean ridge type basalts) have declined about 170 Æ 20  C since the middle Archean (Galer and Metzger, 1998). During the late Phanerozoic, we know that the extrusion of high Mg rocks (e.g. Gorgona and Tortugal komatiites) occurred concurrently with greatly increased production of tholeiitic basalt in the form of oceanic plateaus and massive flood basalts (e.g. Caribbean-Columbian province). (Kerr et al., 1996a,b) These episodes of increased production of basaltic extrusives have been dubbed superplumes (Larson, 1991). In between superplumes, the rate of basalt production declines and very few if any high Mg rocks are extruded Plume activity does continue during these times, but the plumes are not superplumes. Because the liquidus temperatures of Archean high Mg rocks were much greater than those of the known Phanerozoic high Mg rocks, the average degree of melting of the mantle must have been greater. It follows that the volume of extrusives generated during Archean plume and superplume events must also have been greater. The difficulties lie in using the preserved rock record to quantify the difference in volume and to distinguish between normal plume activity and superplumes. The rock record is by nature incomplete. Oceanic plateaus may be subducted or disaggregated. Continental flood basalts, their feeder dikes, and even their underlying magma chambers may be eroded or deformed. Nonetheless, certain proxies have proven useful in delineating mantle plume events (Larson 1991; Ernst and Buchan 1997a,b, 2001). We have previously defined four proxies of mantle plume activity: komatiites, flood basalts, massive mafic dike swarms and layered igneous intrusions (Isley and Abbott, 1999). We determined that komatiites are the most robust indicators of the global plume activity that is characteristic of superplumes. We have more recently suggested that other high-Mg igneous rocks (including meimechites, and some picrites and ankaramites) are the Phanerozoic equivalents of komatiites, and serve as equally strong indicators of global mantle plume volcanism (Isley and Abbott, 2002). However, other plume proxies have yielded more equivocal results. Some Precambrian basalt sequences that lack high-Mg units are of limited areal extent yet have been interpreted as flood basalts (e.g. the ca. 2.0 Ga. Mugford Group; Barton, 1975). Likewise, there are mafic dikes of such limited areal extent that it is difficult to see how they could have served as feeders to continental flood basalts. While extremely large dike swarms like the Matachewan or Central Atlantic dikes are suggestive of superplume origin (Ernst and Buchan, 1997a; Heaman, 1997), what areal extent a dike swarm must have to be considered ‘‘massiveø is unclear. Further, many layered igneous intrusions are emplaced in orogenic provinces, and are unrelated to plume volcanism. In this paper, we attempt to define the subsets of dikes, flood basalts and layered igneous intrusions that are characteristic of superplume events. We then compile a time-series of individual superplume events and use it to evaluate which times during Earth history were characterized by many individual superplume events, thus defining a superplume era.

D.H. Abbott, A.E. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307


2. Plumes, superplumes events and superplume eras: the importance of the difference Mantle plumes (or hotspots) were discovered by identifying areas of unusual volcanism that were not produced by the dewatering or melting of downgoing plates (Morgan, 1978; Crough, 1983). The present-day areas of plume volcanism are sprinkled over the planet, with over 20 acknowledged active mantle plumes (Molnar and Stock, 1987; Sleep, 1990). In the ocean basins, ordinary plumes produce hotspot island chains. On land, ordinary plumes produce areas of flood basalts (e.g. Yellowstone hotspot) or volcanic fields (e.g. Raton hotspot) (Simkin and Siebert, 1994). At times, ordinary plumes have order of magnitude increases in their volcanic extrusion rate per unit time (Duncan and Pyle, 1988; Renne, 1995; Hames et al., 2000). These tremendous increases in volcanic volume result in the production of massive flood basalts, massive dike swarms, and oceanic plateaus. The driving forces for these transitions in plume activity are not known. Some suggest that large meteorite impacts might trigger such changes (Boslough, 1996; Hagstrom, 2000). Others suggest that plume initiation events produce most oceanic plateaus or massive flood basalts (Richards et al., 1991). Although most ordinary plumes do begin with the formation of a large igneous province, some large igneous provinces (e.g. Deccan) have formed from ordinary plumes that suddenly became more active (Bhandari et al., 1993; Courtillot et al., 2000). Thus, the superplume/ordinary plume transition can occur at any time in the life of a plume. When many superplume events occur in a short geological period, they constitute a superplume era. Because they produce massive volumes of basalt in the form of oceanic plateaus and flood basalts, superplume eras have produced major episodes of continental growth and continental rifting (White and MacKenzie, 1989; Stein and Hofmann, 1994; Abbott and Mooney, 1995; Stein and Goldstein, 1996). For example, the largest and thickest oceanic plateaus produced by the Cretaceous superplume era are unsubductable and constitute new continental blocks (Abbott et al., 1997). A superplume at  202 Ma produced the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) (Sebai et al., 1991; Hames et al., 2000). During the extrusion of the CAMP lavas, a large triple junction formed that eventually resulted in the divergence of three continental blocks: Africa/Europe, North America, and South America (Ernst and Buchan, 1997a; Marzoli et al., 1999). Thus, superplume events and eras are major drivers of tectonic change on the Earth, both by building and by disaggregating continents (Condie et al., 2001). Despite the importance of the difference between superplumes and ordinary plumes, the present methods of distinguishing between superplumes and ordinary plumes are quite nebulous. Condie (2001) has made a start by defining superplumes as plume heads with a diameter of between 1500 and 3000-km. In terms of eruptive volume, he defines superplumes as those producing an eruptive volume of 5Â106 km3 or greater (Condie, 2001). The problem is that both of these definitions are very difficult to apply to the eroded remnants from ancient plumes. What really constitutes massive flood basalt as opposed to the basalt fields produced by ordinary plumes? How can we identify events that are distinguished by large increases in igneous extrusion rate as we go back in time and the accuracy of geochronology decreases? When is a dike swarm a massive swarm as opposed to being a simple dike swarm? All of the above methods of distinguishing plumes from superplumes are exceedingly difficult to apply in Precambrian rocks, where the crust is eroded and deformed. We need more quantitative methods of distinguishing superplume events from plume events, methods that can distinguish superplumes from ordinary plumes using spatially


D.H. Abbott, A.E. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307

Table 1 Cretaceous superplume igneous provinces Province name Madagascar basalts Rio Grande Rise Broken Ridge+Naturaliste Plateau Venezuelan-Colombian Basin Kerguelen Plateau Hess Rise Alpha Ridge oceanic plateau Manihiki Plateau Wallaby Plateau Ontong Java Plateau Average age (Ma) 87.55 88 91 100 100.5 107.5 111 118.5 118.5 122.15 Error (Ma) 3.8 1 2 20 11.5 12.5 20 6.5 6.5 3.2 Surface area (km2) 1 1 1 1 1 050 670 020 860 540 800 1 650 1 210 410 1 860 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000

restricted samples. Isley and Abbott (2002) have developed one such method, by defining high Mg rocks as characteristic of superplume events. In the following sections, we define more such quantitative methods.

3. Flood basalts: minimum size indicative of a superplume event The recent Cretaceous superplume era was characterized by the formation of numerous oceanic plateaus; ten of these have been well dated (Table 1). We assume that the size of the smallest, the Wallaby Plateau, 4.1 Â 105 km2, is the lower limit for superplume-generated flood basalt provinces. Based on the distribution of high-Mg rocks in flood basalt sequences of known size, we infer that this is a conservative approach. Neither the Rajmahal flood basalts nor the Columbia River traps—both of which have areal extents smaller than the Wallaby Plateau (Table 2)—contain units with high-Mg character. The total volume of the Columbia River flood basalts is 1.75Â105 km3 (Tolan et al., 1989), below the threshold for superplume lava volume proposed by Condie (2001). In comparison, the Caribbean-Columbian basalt province has a surface area of 1,860,000 km2, and it contains the Tortugal komatiites (Costa Rica), the Gorgona island komatiites, and the Curacao picrites (Isley and Abbott, 2002). The North Atlantic basaltic province has an area of 1,300,000 km2 and contains both picrites and meimechites within parts of Greenland. The Icelandic plateau covers 800,000 km2, and there are ankaramites on Iceland (Pegram and Allegre, 1992). The Caribbean-Columbian, the North Atlantic and the Icelandic provinces all have total lava volumes in excess of 5Â105 km3, and thus would fit the definition of a superplume province proposed by Condie (2001). Thus, the Phanerozoic data support the decision to consider only those flood basalts provinces over 410,000 km2 in area as superplume-generated. Because recent sequences of flood basalts have relatively little erosion compared to ancient ones, the original surface areas of recent flood basalt terrains are comparatively well known. However, because of long-term erosion, the present-day outcrop of ancient flood basalts represents only a fraction of their original areal extent. Therefore, we must calculate their original area from the remaining outcrop area. We use an erosion correction that was originally developed for

50E+06 7. 2002). the Great Dike and satellites of Zimbabwe represent a combination of a layered intrusion (elongated magma chamber) and the remnants of a massive dike swarm (Podmore and Wilson. 1987..D. Ernst and Buchan. Marzoli et al. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 269 Table 2 Large igneous provinces with both mapped feeder dikes and a known value of original surface area of flood basalts Name Maximum dike width. 1999 Hooper.00E+06 1.64E+05 5. For example. In ancient terrains. Half of the recent flood basalt sequences that we are assuming represent mantle superplume activity contain units with rocks containing > 18 wt. Mafic dikes: minimum size indicative of a superplume event As a flood basalt province is eroded. 1997. 1990 Oliveria et al.10E+03 8. m > 100 300 40 10 150 8 > 60 Original surface area. and k is a decay constant of 9. 1997 Sebai et al.. it is not surprising that such units are not known from the oceanic plateaus listed in Tables 1 and 2.04E+03 1. 1990.. 1991 Peate. Condie et al. Because high-Mg units typically comprise < 10% of the total volume of a continental flood basalt (Francis and Hynes. 1997 Gudmundsson. Erlank et al.28E+06 4. Isley and Abbott. 2001).E. 1984 Kent et al. 1990. 1985. The problem lies in using the characteristics of the feeder dikes to infer whether or not an ordinary plume or a superplume produced the eroded flood basalt province. There is therefore a generally good agreement between the high-Mg record and the flood basalts that we infer are proxies of mantle superplume activity. The edges of this dike swarm have been lost due to lateral erosion and deformation of the Zimbabwe craton. . 1979). only the feeder dikes and/or magma chamber are left.. T is time in million years. One quarter of the flood basalt sequences are part of an oceanic feature and cannot easily be subjected to the same sort of scrutiny as continental sequences. 1989 cratonic rocks (Veizer and Jansen. The original surface area (Ao) of a flood basalt province is given by the following equation: Ao ¼ A=eÀkT .% MgO (cf. 4.9021E-4 (derived from Condie et al. 1997b).60E+05 References Deccan province Central Atlantic province Columbia River province Harrat Hadan Parana-Serra Geral and Etendeka Rajmahal Iceland Karkare and Srivastava. 2001). A. Schubert and Sandwell. km2 1. the flood basalt is not included in our list of superplume generated flood basalts (Table 3).000 km2. its feeder dikes and magma chamber are exposed at the surface.. ð1Þ where A is the present day surface area. If the original surface area of a flood basalt province is calculated to be less than 410.H. Abbott...

55 88 91 100 100. Turner et al. 1998 Renne et al.86E+06 1.45 87.00E+05 6.5 12. America Asia Age 7. 1994 Renne et al. 2001 Schubert and Sandwell.10E+05 1. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell.H.40E+05 Reference age Saunders et al.00E+05 1..50E+05 2..00E+06 3.70E+05 1. 1994 Schubert and Sandwell. 1997 Ernst and Buchan.8 1 2 20 11. 1997 Baksi.5 59.75 131.8 8. Schubert and Sandwell. 2001 Sharma. 1997 Schubert and Sandwell.86E+06 1. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell.5 6. 1989 Eldholm and Grue..21E+06 4. 1996 Philpotts. 1998 Saunders et al..270 Table 3 Superplume Type Flood Basalt Provinces Name Iceland Rockall Plateau North Atlantic Igneous Province Deccan Traps Madagascar basalts (Manajary bas. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell. America/Africa Pacific Ocean Pacific Ocean Antarctica Africa N.20E+06 1.67E+06 5. Basu et al. Abbott.35 140 145 183.5 107.5 118.. 1995 Reference width/area D. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Schubert and Sandwell.00E+05 1.8 Surface area 8. 1994 Duncan and Pyle. 1996a Renne et al. 1997 Sinton and Duncan..2 2.E.5 122. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell. 1988 Ernst and Buchan. 1997 Peate. 1988 Schubert and Sandwell.65E+06 1.7 198.5 3.10E+05 1.5 252. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell.. 1997 1989 1989 1989 1989 1989 1989 (continued on next page) .6 3. 1989 Coffin and Eldholm. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell..15 Error 7.24E+06 5.20E+06 7.5 57. 1989 Fleming et al. 1994 Storey et al.15 128.30E+06 8.40E+05 4. 1997 Marsh et al.5 20 6.54E+06 8.55 61. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell.5 2 2 4. Merdian Gp Siberian Traps (Bottom 90%) Location North Atlantic N. Kom) Rio Grande Rise Broken Ridge Venezuelan-Colombian Basin picrites Kerguelen Plateau Hess Rise Alpha Ridge oceanic plateau Manihiki Plateau Wallaby Plateau Ontong Java Plateau Parana-Serra Geral and Etendeka Parana-Serra Geral and Etendeka Shatsky Rise Magellan Rise Ferrar Dolerite Sills Karoo Province (Lembobo (Letaba) picrites) Newark SGp. Peate.60E+06 1.6 183. A. Atlantic N.20E+06 1. Schubert and Sandwell.. 1995. 1996 Encarnacion et al. Atlantic border India Madagascar S. America/Africa S. Schubert and Sandwell.5 3. 1989 Encarnacion et al. Schubert and Sandwell. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell. Atlantic Indian Ocean Carribbean Indian Ocean Pacific Ocean Arctic Ocean Pacific Ocean Indian Ocean Pacific Ocean S. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell. Schubert and Sandwell.6 3. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell.4 10 5 1 0.. 1989 Embry and Osadetz.. 1997 Schubert and Sandwell.5 111 118. 1996b. 1989 Schubert and Sandwell..

2001 Robertson and Baragar.00E+06 2. 1998 Buchan et al.60E+05 2.7 4.5 3 2 6 12.70E+05 2. 2001 Hanson et al. 1998 271 .5 724 779 827 1097. America Africa N. America Baltica Baltica India Kaapvaal Pilbara Pilbara Kaapvaal Age 254.00E+06 1. 1993 Wingate. 1989a. America N..E.Table 3 (continued) Name Emeishan-Song Da-Jinping Flood Basalts (has picrites) East European Craton Antrim Plateau Basalts Franklin Sills Hottah McKenzie mt (inferred from dikes) Willouran Volcanics Keweenawan Basalts Umkondo Dolerite FB Coppermine River Basalts Nauyat Plateau Basalt.. Mackenzie Onega Plateau Birrimian thoeliites-Tehini belt Nippising diabase flood basalt Karelian SGp Sumi-Sariola Gp Imandra-Varzuga (Strelna) Rampur Flood Basalts (Gharwar-Mandi) Klipriveersberg FloodbasaltVentersdorp SG Fortescue-Kylena Fortescue-Mt. 1976 Heaman et al.. 1989a. 1992 LeCheminant and Heaman.9 368.00E+04 1.. 1996 Puchtel et al.8 2442.6 1.b Puchtel et al. Davis and Green. 1998 Wingate. 1994 Hilyard. 1972 LeCheminant and Heaman. 1995 Bhat et al. 1996 Amelin et al. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Chung et al.3 45 2 5 Surface area 2. 1998 Ernst and Buchan.b LeCheminant and Heaman.00E+06 2.27E+05 500000 2.50E+04 1.50E+05 1. 1990...12E+05 1.7 3.7 1270 1277 1975 2183. Roe FB Derdepoort Flood Basalts Location Asia Europe Australia N. 1998 Condie et al. 1997 Hanson et al.. 1998 Wingate.. 2000 Davis and Paces. 1999 Hirdes and Davis.75 531.05 2441. 2001 Bultitude.8 2486 2713.75 18. 1989a.10E+05 1. America Europe Africa N.. A.00E+04 Reference age Chung et al. 1998 Wingate. 1999 Hirdes and Davis. America Australia N.7 2219...7 1104.3 4 18 24 6. 1998 Wingate.00E+06 6. Abbott.. 1995 Amelin et al. 1998 Reference width/area D.00E+04 1. 1987 Amelin et al. 1990 Ernst and Buchan.b LeCheminant and Heaman...12E+05 1.26E+04 4.10E+05 1.3 2725 2772 2782 Error 5.H. 1993 Blake. 1998 LeCheminant and Heaman. 2001 Ernst and Buchan..b Puchtel et al.8 69 8. America N. 1989a. 1998 Wingate. 1998 Blake. 1994 Wingate and Giddings. 1995 Bhat et al. 1998 Ernst and Buchan.00E+06 4.1 2.50E+05 3.1 10. 1998 LeCheminant and Heaman.

Thus. So it is necessary to find another characteristic which may be correlated with areal extent. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 The map area of feeder dike outcrops might be one indicator. therefore. 1994. but we know from studies of the Columbia River basalts that the map area of the feeder dikes is much less than the map area covered by basalt flows (Hooper. that total magma volume and total surface area covered are closely related variables. covering hundreds of square kilometers in short periods of time. It is reasonable to infer. The . it has been observed that flood basalts show only a small variation in thickness over large areas (Coffin and Eldholm.) Data for Iceland and the Deccan Traps are also listed in Table 2. (Note that the surface areas listed are the total surface areas covered by flood basalts before any continental rifting took place. we could then estimate the surface area covered by long eroded flood basalt events. Thus. 1997)..000 km2 for a dike 100 m wide. in any given dike swarm. Finally. the small surface areas of the surviving cratons themselves limit our ability to calculate an original extent of plume activity. is equal to some constant A times the square of the maximum dike width. Abbott. the total volume of magma discharged per unit of dike height (this has units of surface area) ranges from roughly 100 km2 for a dike 10 m wide to 10. To test for a possible relationship between the maximum dike width and the areal extent of a flood basalt province. the widest dikes are by far the most important in transporting magma. It is very difficult at this time to assemble sufficiently reliable data on the areal extent of flood basalts and the maximum width of their feeder dikes. the total surface area covered by dikes is not only poorly preserved. We have been able to identify just five Phanerozoic plume and superplume events (Table 2) with accurate data on maximum dike width and flood basalt area: (1) the Parana-Serra Geral and Etendeka flood basalts of South America and West Africa. A. 1 shows that there is a very strong linear correlation between the two variables.272 D. Their sizes constitute an artificial limit on the calculation of dike swarm area and original areal extent of flood basalt provinces. 1999). the Ferrar-Karoo Province of South Africa and Antarctica.99 for the correlation. the map area of ancient feeder dikes can only give. We could further use the maximum widths of the largest feeder dikes to evaluate which past flood basalt events were generated by ‘‘normal’’ plume activity and which were generated by superplume activity. That is. Hooper. Encarnacion et al. So. is not listed because it is partly buried under the Antarctic ice cap. we plotted the maximum dike width in each terrain versus the corresponding square root of the surface area of flood basalt. so neither dike widths nor total surface area are well-known. 1997). but the dike widths for these terrains are not well constrained. Theoretical calculations of the total volume of magma passed through a dike (per unit dike height) as a function of the dike width at the Earth’s surface shows a nearly linear relationship between the square of dike width and the total magma volume (Fialko and Rubin. 1996. deformed rocks. 1982. W. S. Fig. (4) the Rajmahal Traps of India.E. Cratons are artifacts of the tectonic processes that formed them and surrounded them with younger. a lower limit on the former areal extent of the flood basalts. Erupting flood basalts have very low viscosities and spread out over wide areas. at best. in very old cratons. (3) the Harrat Hadan in Ethiopia.H. but what is preserved is usually highly metamorphosed and deformed. If we could show that total surface area of the flood basalt. for dikes with widths in excess of about 10 m. with an R2 value of 0. Additionally. This relationship means that a 100-m wide dike has a magma transport rate that is 100 times the magma transport rate of a 10-m wide dike. (2) the Columbia River flood basalts of the northwestern US. Another sequence of flood basalts. and (5) the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP).

D. reversing the dependent and independent variables. the equation . a second least squares fit predicts maximum feeder dike width from the flood basalts total surface area. For example.67E-3. the smallest superplume-generated plateau in Table 1. which range from 8 m wide to 300 m wide. relationship is linear for all maximum dike widths in our data set.500. Data used to make this plot is in Table 2. To derive our empirical relationships.000 km2) to calculate a maximum dike width of 134 Æ 8 m.H. (3) and the total surface area of the Deccan traps (1. Abbott.527. so that W ¼ 0:1093ðAÞ1=2 : ð3Þ The error in the slope of Eq. We can test these relations using the partial data from the other basalt provinces in Table 2. The first equation calculates total surface area (A) from the maximum width (W) of the feeder dikes: A ¼ 9:0826W 2 ð2Þ The error in the slope of Eq. Best-fit line is fit by least squares with a forced zero intercept. (3) is Æ 6. We use Eq. (2) is Æ 0. Conversely. For the Wallaby plateau. we do not know the maximum width of the Deccan feeder dikes. A. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 273 Fig. Maximum feeder dike width (meters) versus square root of total surface area (km) covered by flood basalts. 1. From our line fits. although it is known that the widest mapped feeder dikes are over 100 m in width. we made two ‘‘least squares’’ fits to the data. we were able to derive two simple predictive equations.E. Data points: squares.

In the granulite regions. We therefore assume that superplume activity generates dikes having widths in excess of 70 m (Table 4). the Rhum intrusion does contain small. known to be unrelated to a superplume event. The Rhum intrusion covers an area of only 30 km2 (Hamilton et al. Thus. would be expected to form layers of chromitite or layers enriched in PGEs. The size of a layered intrusion is not a good indicator of the plume magnitude. This definition fits with the small amount of data listed in Table 2. 1987. In particular.. Superplume layered intrusions In terranes with high pressure metamorphic rocks exposed at the surface. The primary magmas. 1998). A. the sizes of layered intrusions appear to be dependent on crustal and tectonic factors not necessarily related to the plume itself.H. The Columbia River ‘‘normal’’ plume produced maximum dike widths of 40 m. The ‘‘Great Dike’’ of Rhodesia. 1986). also contain chromite and/or show PGE enrichment (Guilbert and Park.8 Ma Kap Edvard Holm layered intrusion. Dike swarms with maximum feeder dike widths less than 70 m are categorized as belonging to ‘‘normal’’ plume events. For example. 1998). Other small intrusions along the west coast of Scotland and east coast of Greenland. it is too young to have been formed by the North Atlantic superplume (Tegner et al. 1987). the only remnant of a superplume event may be the lower part of a magma chamber that fed the eroded dikes. 1998). . superplumes do not necessarily produce larger intrusions and ‘‘normal’’ plumes do not necessarily produce smaller intrusions. on the east coast of Greenland. as they crystallized in the intrusion. while the superplumegenerated Deccan traps are known to have dike widths wider than 100 m. In fact. A much larger feature. we will be able to refine our boundary values. Abbott. consistent with our definition of a superplume event. for example. Halls.8 Ma..E. contains extensive chromium deposits (Guilbert and Park. so intrusions formed by them would be expected to have a different mineralogy than those formed by ‘‘normal’’ plumes. As better field data for the characteristics of Phanerozoic flood basalt provinces become available in the future. the dike swarms are eroded and often removed. We know that the small Rhum intrusion was formed by a superplume event and therefore we would expect to find Cr and PGE enrichments.. 1986). the Rhum intrusion on the isle of Rhum off the coast of Scotland was emplaced during the North Atlantic superplume event. consistent with our empirical prediction.274 D. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 predicts a maximum dike width of 70 Æ 4 m. These solidified magma chambers constitute mafic and ultramafic layered intrusions. well-defined chromite layers (Hamilton et al. 5. The problem is how to differentiate between layered intrusions generated by superplumes and those generated by some other process. covers 360 km2. we would expect them to have high concentrations of compatible elements such as Cr and the platinum group elements (PGEs). Superplumes are associated with increased melting in the mantle. such as the one on the Isle of Mull and the Skaergaard intrusion. the 48. but with an age of 48.. the areas of the Canadian Shield with granulite facies rock at the surface have far fewer dike swarms that the adjacent lower grade regions (Fahrig and West. known to have been produced by the North Atlantic superplume. Instead. However. is not enriched in Cr or PGEs and has no chromite layers (Tegner et al. the much bigger Kap Edvard Holm layered intrusion. 1998). For example.

5 682 717 724 755 840. 1996 Glikson et al.. Foglo) Region North Atlantic Greenland India Brazil North America Spain Nova Scotia Europe Europe Canada Greenland Africa North America Australia Australia Baltica Australia Zimbabwe Canada Canada Greenland Europe Canada Greenland Europe Canada Canada Africa Europe Europe Europe Width. 1990 Dunn et al. A. 1991 Barnes and Francis.5 10 4 3 80 38 26 30. 1999 Tomshin and Koroleva.5 1036.1987 Patchett.5 201 203 203 330 377. 1987 Hunter and Reid...5 66 66. 1978 Condie et al.... 1992 Wingate and Giddings. 1987 Christie and Fahrig. 1993 Emerman. 1995 Patchett. 1998 Aifa et al.E.5 6..5 55. 1996 Hahn et al.5 590. 1981 Aifa et al.5 1. 1990 D. 1997 Wilson et al.. 1987 Upton and Emeleus.5 132. 1997 Dunning and Hodych.5 1058 1100 1110 1140. 1971 Bhattacharji et al. 1991 Heaman et al.5 14 270 3 2 16 18 4 56.5 25 11 4 3 73. 1997 Dawes and Soper. 2000 Zhao and McCulloch. 1987 Bhattacharji et al. 1990 Dunn et al. 1978 Suominen. 1986 Reid et al.. 1986 Wikstrom.1987 Suominen. 1997a. 1985 Lindberg and Eklund. 1987 Ernst et al. 1995 MacKay. 1994 Hunter and Reid. 1987 Patchett. 1995 Dawes and Rex. 1991 Ernst and Buchan. Abbott.H. 1994 Patchett. 1987 Upton and Emeleus. 1978 Dudas et al.....5 Reference age Saunders et al. 1996 Druecker and Gay.b Cadman et al. 1987 Upton et al.6 4.5 1260 1270 1277 1330 1518 1545 1558. 1999 Tomshin and Koroleva.1983 Wingate and Giddings.. 1984 Condie et al.6 1154 1213 1238. 1987 Oliveria et al.. 1990 Seymour and Kumarapeli.5 1259. 1993 Mertanen et al.. 1990 Nielsen.. 1978 Suominen. 1993 Mertanen et al. 1996 Sheraton and Sun.Table 4 Superplume dike swarms Name Iceland Peary Land dike swarm Deccan dikes Parana dikes Central Atlantic Dike Swarm Messejana Dike Shelborne Dike St Malo dike Swarm Chara Sinsk Dikes Grenville Dikes Thule dikes Ganna Kouriep mafic dikes Borden diabase dikes (Franklin) Mundine well dike swarm Gairdner Dike Swarm Bistjarvi-Laanila diabase dikes Champ de Mers Guruve Swarm/Deweras dike Pidgeon river dikes (Logan sill) Abitibi Dykes Gardar Giant Dikes-Tugtutoq Sundsjo dike Sudbury Dikes Gardar Giant Dikes-older Market dolerite Muskox Intrusion dikes (MacKenzie) Harp dolerite dikes/Reid Brook Intrusion Pilanesberg dikes swarm Hallefors dike Breven giant dike Aland-Aboland dike swarm (Korso. 1995 Nielsen. 1998 Papezik and Barr.. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 275 (continued on next page) ... 1996 Peate. 1998 Dunn et al.. 1978 Patchett. 1990 Kamo et al.. 1987 Green et al. m > 60 200 > 100 100 250 300 180 100? 200 100 100 100* 250 > 300 > 100 ? 200 130 100 500 250 800 250 100 200 700 400 400 > 75 1000 1000 400 Age 7.5 Error 7. 1991 Reference: maximum dike width Gudmundsson. 2000 Zhao and McCulloch.. 1991 Aberg and Lopez Montano.. 1991 Krogh et al.3 5 2 2 2 10 19..

Abbott. Kenora-Kabetogama komatiitic dikes Pippolanmaki-Kutsu dikes Cauchon (older Molson)-some komatiitic Region Greenland Europe India Europe India Guiana Australia Rio de la Plata Europe Guiana India Superior North America (Labrador) North America Slave Greenland Superior Europe Width. 1991 Radhakrishna et al. 1987 Parker et al. dolerite-gabbronorite.. 1994 Chamberlain et al. 1996 Nykanen et al.. 1997 LeCheminant et al. 1996 Beck and Murthy. diabase dikes Kovero-Koli dikes (Fe tholeiites) Marathon diabase. 1993 Norcross et al.5 2010 2026. 1986 Scott and Machado. 1980 Teixeira et al.8 1890. 1999 Radhakrishna and Joseph. 1987 Airo. 1994 Superior Superior Europe Superior 100* 120 > 100 120 2114..5 10 3. 1996 D.. 1999 Panganamentula.. 1986 Ramo and Siivola.5 4. 1991 Heaman et al. LeCheminant et al. 1996 Halls. 1998 Page et al..8 1789 1822 1882.5 67 10 25 Buchan et al. 2000. 1996 Zhai et al. 1999 Hanes et al. 1998 Radhakrishna et al..written comm.5 2076.5 2113 Error 35 6 10 8 31 28 10 11 0. m 500 1000 100 1000 80 51000 200 80 51000 500 100 120 > 200 > 100 > 100 100 100* 100 Age 1645 1646 1650 1667 1668 1670 1690 1726 1758..9 2 42 2. 1987 Buchan et al...5 2039... 1991 Zhai et al. 1994 (continued on next page) ... 1982 Pekkarinen and Lukkarinen.3 2.5 4 Reference age Kalsbeek and Taylor. A. 1995 Chamberlain. 1994 Pekkarinen. 1995 Nutman et al. Frances.. 1994 Gibbs... Pekkarinen and Lukkarinen. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Airo.. 1979.5 2120 2123 2145 10.5 1. 1991 Radhakrishna and Joseph. 1987 Teixeira et al. 1999 Amelin et al. 1999 Ramo. 1995 Nielsen. 1996 Teixeira et al. 1999 Shatalov.H... 1999 Heaman et al.. 1991 Buchan et al..276 Table 4 (continued) Name Melville Bugt Dike Swarm Hame olivine dolerite dikes Ansio Tiruvannamali dike swarm Dharwar Hame olivine dolerite dikes Virmala Dharwar. 1987 Radhakrishna and Joseph. dikes Avanavero feeder dikes (Roraima) Oenpelli dolerite dikes Uruguayan Dikes Zyzdal-Zalesskaya Dike Korosten Avanavero Suite Sills (Roraima intrusives) Dharmapuri dikes Cuthbert Dikes (younger Molson) some komatiitic Avayalik dikes Kennedy dike swarm Lac de Gras dikes Kangamuit younger dikes Ft. 1987 Pekkarinen andLukkarinen.. 1996a Reference: maximum dike width Nielsen. 1994 Bridgewater et al.E. 1991 Gibbs.

. 1999 Stueber et al. 1997 Alapieti and Lahtinen.. 1999 Puchtel et al. A. 1999 Mukasa et al.1990 Ernst and Buchan.. th. pyroxenites Koillismaa (Syote...5 2436 2437 2440 5. 1984 Willigers et al. dikes Karelian dikes (near Olango) Matachewan.H. Fe-rich qtz tholeiites. Narankavaara) Vinela dike. 1997 Vuollo et al.5 5 3 10 Superior Baltic Superior Canada Superior Greenland Zimbabwe Craton Australia Pilbara Australia Wyoming Kaapvaal Craton Greenland 100? 200 250 100 300 100 1000 700 > 200 1000 150 51000 100 2446 2446 2466 2470 2491 2528 2596 2698 2747 2771 2826 2875 3485 3 5 23 20 5 25 14 22 4 2 58 40 25 Heaman. 1993 Cadman et al. qtz. Vestfold Hills II. 1987 Wingate.E. 1998 Bridgewater et al. norites. Bighorn II Klotz basic dikes Sukkertoppen dikes (Pakitsoq.. Scourie I.. 1999 Heaman and Tarney.3 Reference age Condie et al. 1987 Fahrig et al. 1987 ÃDike width estimated from maximum dike width assuming a 1000:1 ratio of dike length:maximum dike width. 1987 Parker et al. Kussuarvi. 1986 Vogel et al. 1997 Krogh et al. 1995 Buchan et al. 1990 Barooah and Bowes. 1993 Cadman et al. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Buchan et al.7 2200 2209 2214 2214. 1986 Reference: maximum dike width Buchan et al. 1976 Buchan et al. quartz thol. 1997 Nelson et al. Kikkertavik Dike Swarm Antarctica.. 1995 Hatton and Von Gruenewald. Porttivaara...4 Error 1...4 2 7 2. 1993 Lanyon et al.4 35 2 10 12... 1998 Nutman et al. 1987 Nielsen. picrites. 1999 Wingate. 1997 Ernst and Buchan. high-Mg norites Binneringie/Jimberlana dikes (Celebration dike/ Widgiemoltha swarm) Lewisian... 1989 Rivers... dikes Wyoming.3 2235 2238 2410.. 1974 D. 1987 Stueber et al.. Abbott. Vetreny Belt Penikat Layered Intrusion (deformed dike) (also Kemi and Tornio) Hearst. 1999 Condie et al. 1999 Stueber et al. Sister dikes) Senneterre.. 1976 Layer et al. 1999 Wingate. 1997b Puchtel et al. 277 . 1989 Vogel et al. 1993 Doehler and Heaman.. th. Fe-rich qtz. 1993 Hoek and Seta.. 1984 Mertanen et al. 1987 Podmore and Wilson... 1998 Heaman.. 1996 Ernst and Halls. 1999 Nielsen. 1988 Nutman et al... m 250 150 100 200 100 400 100 51000 Age 2166. Mistassini komatiite and basaltic dikes Streich gabbro norite dikes (feeder to Agnew) Kangamuit older mafic dikes Great Dyke Golden Mile dolerite dike Sylvania Inlier dikes Black Range/Cajuput dike Wyoming Bighorn I Ushushuwana Intrusion Tarssartoq-Amerilik dikes Region Superior Wyoming Superior Greenland Superior Canada Antarctica Yilgarn Width. 1976 Hunter and Reid. 1999 Stueber et al. 1997b Europe Baltica Craton Europe Baltica Craton 80 51000 500 51000 2419. 1976 Buchan et al...Table 4 (continued) Name Biscotasing.. 1994 Wingate.

To do this. This might suggest that the Cretaceous superplume was the largest superplume event in Earth history.. Identification and duration of superplume event and eras We assembled all the data for each of our superplume proxies into one large data set. we arbitrarily set the minimum age error at 5 Ma. but is still rather deceptive. However.7–2. To do this. 6.183. 2B. The result is shown in Fig. The result. 2A). As the geochronology improves. we used a cutoff value based on the mean error of the data in the time series in Fig. Using the geochronological data. 2A. 2A where we see a time series generated from the sum of the individual gaussians. The resulting list has 36 superplume eras occurring throughout recorded Earth history (Table 5). Therefore. we must identify the beginning and ending of significant superplume activity throughout Earth history. Intrusions containing chromite layers. 2A the highest peak is for the next to youngest superplume era.183. most of the superplume eras last a relatively short time.278 D. 8 Ma or less. this is not true. we have developed a list of superplume-generated layered igneous intrusions. Intrusions containing no such enrichment are classified as being produced by ‘‘normal’’ plumes. all rock units with an age error of less than 5 million years were assigned an error of 5 Ma. 3.45 Ma. these longer superplume . This is more reasonable. Abbott. As shown in Fig. Then we will have more valid information on the relative size of Precambrian superplume eras compared to those in the Phanerozoic. A few superplume eras are quite long.E. lasted about 80 Ma. but the height of the gaussian peak is greater if the age error is small. The mean error of the ages is 17. the Cretaceous superplume era at 84–120 Ma (Larson. 1991). Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Consequently. we use the presence of Cr and/or PGE enrichment in layered intrusions with no arc affinity. The height of this peak is due to the very low errors in the rock dates. including the errors in age. and/or PGE enrichment are classified as being produced by superplumes. We found that this model time series had a maximum peak height of 0. we generated a time series by making a gaussian curve for each age and age error. In Fig. Overall. which defines each era. with durations of over 10 Ma. The area under each gaussian curve is the same for each age and its error. we find that the average duration of superplume eras in the Phanerozoic (12 Æ 3Ma) is indistinguishable from the average duration of superplume eras in the Archean (13 Æ 7 Ma).45 Ma. shows a smoothed distribution that reduces the peak heights of the best-dated superplumes. A.H. We added together eight modeled gaussians with the same mean and with an age error of 17. as our fourth proxy for superplume activity. In order to assess the true size of superplume eras. we define the beginning and end of a superplume era by using the sections of the time series that have values above 0. The height of the peaks depends on both the numbers of superplume proxies available for a given event and the errors in the dating of these events. we must quantify the length of time. It is a fact of geochronology that younger rocks are more precisely dated than older rocks. In order to reduce this bias. That is. given in Table 5. shown in Fig. at about 2. This smoothed time series shows that the largest Precambrian superplume era is about as large as the largest Phanerozoic superplume era. Cr enrichment. One superplume era.8 Ga. we use the age and error data as given in the literature (as for the time series shown in Fig. Using this criterion. To obtain the most accurate assessment of the duration of superplume eras.

07 Hamilton et al.. 1984 Cottin et al... Guilbert and Park. 1996 4 LeCheminant 10.. 1995 1. 1994 Ferreira-Filho et al.. 1986 Glikson et al. 1984 D. 1994 Fan...35 50 2 Tang et al.95 Minor and Mukasa..1 250. 1994 31 32. 1994 Suita et al. 1993 Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt..75 Tegner et al... 1994 Suita et al. Abbott. 1998 0. 1996 Annells et al. 1975. 1985 Amelin et al.55 58..1994 Wilkinson et al. 1992 Ferreira-Filho et al. 1998 0. Guilbert and Park. 1986 Wirth et al.. 1994 Wilkinson et al... Guilbert and Park.. 1999 Krogh et al. 1990 Wirth et al. 1993.5 Renne et al. 1990 Wirth et al.9 1270 1275. 1990 Wirth et al..E.. 1975 Page et al. Ashwal. 1998. A....Table 5 Superplume Type Layered Intrusions Name Skaergaard Intrusion (Sorgenfri Glerscher Sill) Skye Complex (Cuillin gabbroic complex) Rum Intrusion Insizwa Complex(MtAyliff)/ Tabankulu Dufek Layered Mafic Intrusion Norilsk Talminsky Layered Intrusion (same age as Norilsk) Laouni Doviren Layered Intrusion Rincon del Tigre Complex Mount Davies (same age as Giles complex) Duluth Complex Muskox Mukanda-Buhoro-Musongati Massif Jinchuan layered intrusion Americano do Brasil Niquelandia/Tocantins Barro Alto Cana Brava Ultramafic Complex Piumhi sill (Piumhi greenstone belt) Sally Malley Sudbury Igneous Complex Salt Creek Panton Intrusion Location Greenland United Kingdom United Kingdom South Africa Antarctica Asia Asia Algeria Siberia Brazil Musgrave Block USA Superior Burundi China Brazil Brazil Brazil Brazil Brazil Australia Superior Craton Australia Australia Mineralization PGE-rich Chromite (accessory but no bands) Chromite PGE-rich Chromite PGEs Chromite Average Age age error 55..75 Paces and Miller..H. 1983 Hoatson. 1996 Chromite 565 Chromite 699 Chromite (accessory 992 but no bands) Chromite 1078 PGE rich Chromite PGE-rich PGE-rich Chromite Chromite/PGE PGE/Chromite Chromite Chromite PGE-rich PGE-rich Chromite Chromite 1098.5 21 21 100 3 3.08 Hamilton et al.5 1508 1575. 1995 Tack et al. 1996 Barnes and Francis. 1998 Paces and Miller..5 Tack et al. 1986 Guilbert and Park..53 178 183.. 1998 Amelin et al.5 1850 1856 0. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 0. 1998 Distler. 1990 Jahn and Schrank.5 Renne et al. 1983 Sproule et al. 1990 (continued on next page) 1. 1996 Annells et al. 1986 Ferris et al.. 1998 8 Fitch and Miller..1 Age reference Mineralization reference Guilbert and Park. 1995 65 48 86 5 Bertrand et al.91 60.25 250. 1998. 1995 279 . 1993. 1998 Deutsch and Grieve.. 1986 Hamilton et al. Gilbert and Park. 1986 Hoatson. 1986 Hamilton et al. 1994 Dyuzhikov et al...5 1575.5 32.5 1729 1729 1840 1844 1849. 1994 Jahn and Schrank.. 1997 1.

1993 Amelin et al.1 2445 2449 2481 2491 2505...E. 1993 Amelin et al. 1986. 1986.. 1990 Guilbert and Park... 1995 Krogh et al. 1995 Premo et al. 1991 (continued on next page) .1 2702 2705 2705 2733. 1999 Guilbert and Park. Cahen et al.. 1990 Nelson et al... A. 1985 Bruegmann et al. 1989 Schoenberg et al. 1995 1.. 1985.45 Heaman et al. 1995 Barrie and Davis. 1997 Scoates.. 1990 D.. 1990 Morrison et al.5 2441 2441.4 2 1.. 1999 Schoenberg et al... 1995 Sutcliffe et al.8 2442.6 2 4 5 Parrish. 1984 Amelin et al.. 1984 Balashov et al.95 Morrison et al. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt.H. 1984 Amelin et al.. Premo et al. 1993 Machado et al.. 1995 Superior Craton Superior Province Baltica Craton Superior Craton Yilgarn Craton Wyoming Craton Superior Craton Superior Craton Superior Craton Brazil 0. 1983* Diella et al. 1984 Krogh et al.7 1. 1995 Balashov et al.1 9 5 1.. 1986 Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt. 1998 Hubbard et al.. Cahen et al. PGE-rich Chromite Chromite Chromite Chromite Chromite PGE-rich PGE-rich PGE-rich Chromite Chromite Chromite PGE-rich PGE-rich Chromite Chromite Chromite PGE-rich Chromite Chromite Average Age age error 1857 1883 1920 2043 2043 2120.6 1. 1986 8 11 11 73.... 1995 Hubbard et al...5 1.. 1985 28 5 6 Bruegmann et al. Abbott. 1991 Scoates and Eckstrand. 1995 Balashov et al. 1995 Amelin et al.. 1993 Balashov et al... 1993 Nelson et al.. 1995 Kleinkopf.. 1997 Ashwal.3 2736 2745 2763 Age reference Mineralization reference Sun et al. 1993 Amelin et al. 1998 Amelin et al.... 1995 Amelin et al.1986 2 Page et al..280 Table 5 (continued) Name Springvale (Lamboo) Intrusion Fox River Sill Katiniq Sills (Donaldson West) Bushveld Layered Intrusion Molopo Farms Kunene Complex Imandra Lopolith Olanga Complex Lukkulaisvarra Kivaaka Burakovsky Layered Intrusion East Bull Lake Layered Intrusion Agnew Instrusion Generalskaya Kamiskotia Layered Intrusion Bulong Complex Sills (Kalgoorlie) Stillwater Layered Complex Mulcahy Lake Layered Intrusion Lac des Iles Layered Complex Bird River Sill Luanga Location Australia Superior Craton Superior Craton Kaapvaal Craton Kaapvaal Craton Angola-Namibia Baltica Baltica Baltica Baltica Baltica Craton Craton Craton Craton Craton Mineralization Chromite Chromite. 1990 Guilbert and Park.

1996 Hoatson et al. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Name Windimurra+Yoanmi+ Alley+Barambie+ Gabanintha+Narndee Fiskanaesset Anorthosite Complex Bhavani Maitland Complex Mount Sholl Radio Hill Munni Munni Intrusion Sittampundi Location Yilgarn Craton Nain Craton India Pilbara Pilbara Pilbara Pilbara India Mineralization Chromite Average Age age error 2800 40 Age reference Mathison and De Laeter.. Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt. 1992 Bhaskar-Rao et al. 1996.5 38. 1999 Nutman et al... 1992 Hoatson et al.75 Arndt et al.. 1996 Zimbabwe Craton Chromite Itsaq Gneiss Complex Greenland Chromite 3811 4 281 . 1996 Hoatson et al....H.8 3373.. 1992 Barnes and Hoatson.. 1996.E. 1989 Bhaskar Rao et al..Table 5 (continued) D. 1976. 1990 Jackson. 1990 Nutman et al. Horstwood et al. 1991. 1996 Chromite Chromite Chromite PGE-rich PGE-rich Chromite PGE-rich Chromite 2870 2899 2925 2925 2925 2927 2935 70 28 16 16 16 13 60 Craton Craton Craton Craton Messina Layered Intrusion Selukwe (Shurugwi) Limpopo Belt Chromite 3148. 1990 Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt. 1992 Sun and Hoatson.. 1999 Moorbath et al. Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt.. 1992 Hoatson et al..1994 Baskar-Rao et al.5 Taylor et al. 1996 Mineralization reference Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt.. 1992 Hoatson et al.. 1990 Bhaskar-Rao et al.. Kroener et al. 1994 Ashwal et al. 1992 Hoatson et al... A. 1991 83. Abbott.

At best. only the feeder dikes to these flood basalts remain.282 D. For feeder dikes less than 300 m in maximum width. we are confident that our relationship is valid for maximum dike widths up to 300 m. (2) to extrapolate the size of past flood basalt events. We use Eq. This time series uses the errors of ages as they are given in the literature. Methodology: extrapolation of superplume sizes from dike widths The vast majority of flood basalts from past superplume events are nearly completely eroded. the method is still valid. The result is higher peak heights for events with very high precision ages. the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) event had maximum feeder dike widths of about 300 m (Marzoli et al. we can successfully model the approximate areal extent of the resulting flood basalt province before it was eroded.H.. (B) Time series of superplume events versus time derived from adding gaussians defined by ages and age errors of individual superplume proxies. the plate reconstruction of the initial configuration of . eras may prove to be two or more pulses of superplume activity.E. Abbott. 2. Even if only one part of an original plume-generated triple junction has survived in the geological record. (A). Because the largest of the Phanerozoic flood basalts. A. the Cretaceous superplume era now appears to represent two pulses of superplume activity rather than a single period of continuous superplume magmatism (Table 5). For example. The series is smoothed by setting all age errors less than 5 my to 5 million years. 1999). For example. Time series of superplume events versus time derived from adding gaussians defined by ages and age errors of individual superplume proxies. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Fig. 7.

Now these flood basalts form parts of North America. The maximum width of the feeder dikes to the associated Muskox layered intrusion is 400 m. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 283 Fig. Abbott. South America. the widest CAMP dike is 180 m wide (the Shelbourne dike in Nova Scotia). There is a 25% chance that only the 180-m-wide dike would be preserved. we can feel confident that using the maximum dike widths in our compilation (Table 5) will produce at least minimum estimates for the sizes of the original flood basalt provinces and thereby give at least minimum estimates for the size of the plume or superplume event. Europe and Africa.E. In North America. It is possible that thermal erosion during magma transport to the surface artificially increases the width of these large dikes (Williams and Lesher. Four flood basalt provinces on four continents were deposited around this triple junction before rifting separated them.000 km2. We digitized the boundaries of the MacKenzie dike swarm from the map of Fahrig and West (1987) and used Stokes theorem to calculate the total surface area covered by . (2) the Roiraima-Cassipore dikes in South America. The extrapolation of original superplume size from the maximum feeder dike width is much more hazardous when the feeder dikes exceed 300 m in width. there is a 3 out of 4 chance that the widest surviving dikes would be 300 m wide. Thus. 1 is no longer valid. the superplume that produced the CAMP flood basalts shows a triple junction in the region that is now the mid-Atlantic ocean.200. The distribution has two modes at 2 Ma and at 14 to 18 Ma. Using our empirical relationship shown in Eq. Histogram of the duration of superplume eras. we derive a predicted original surface area for the eroded MacKenzie flood basalts of 13. A. 1996) and that therefore the linear correlation shown in Fig. In three out of four of these provinces. and (3) the Ksi-Ksou dike in West Africa. there is a massive feeder dike that has a maximum dike width of 300 m: (1) the Messejana dike in Spain. we used the MacKenzie dike swarm as a test case. To test this. 3.H. (2).D. we would have a 75% chance of closely approximating the actual areal extent and a 25% chance of seriously underestimating it. In this example. If we were to wait 1 Ga until only one out of four of these provinces was preserved in the geological record.

14E 7 km2. Using the maximum width of giant feeder dikes (those greater than 400 m in width) to infer the lateral extent of flood basalt provinces has some further problems. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Fig. If we scale the MacKenzie dike surface area upward by dividing by 0. 4. we digitized the boundary of the surface area covered by the feeder dikes to the Columbia River basalt province (Hooper. 8. Best-fit line is fit by least squares with a forced zero intercept.284 D. We assume that this represents only one third of the original province (LeCheminant and Heaman. represented 52. 1982) and found that the dike surface area. 4). Large Triangles with upward arrows: minimum widths of dikes from the Deccan traps and Iceland versus surface area of the superplume lavas. We also plot the minimum dike widths of the feeders to Deccan traps and the Iceland basalts. 1997b). 1989a). Square root of surface area (km) covered by flood basalts versus the maximum width (m) of feeder dikes. Abbott.6E 4 km2. However. Squares: Data points (Table 2) used to fit the line. we feel relatively confident that for igneous events where the feeder dikes are 400 m or less in maximum width. Therefore. Thus. the predicted size of the MacKenzie event is 1. A.E. (2) (Fig.524 we get a predicted flood basalt surface area of 3.H. The width of these funnel shaped layered intrusions is much wider than the true width of the feeder dike and should not be used to infer the .82E 6 km2. as would be the case if the MacKenzie swarm is analogous to the CAMP event. and they plot near the best-fit line. When feeder dikes are very wide with very high magma flow rates. local discontinuities in flow can produce irregular thermal erosion of the dike walls. the feeder dike swarm covers a much smaller surface area than the flood basalts.0E 6 km2. in any flood basalt event.4% of the total area of the flood basalt province. our calculations of flood basalt surface area are reasonable within the known errors of the field measurements. The widest of these irregularities can eventually form funnel shaped layered intrusions (Ernst and Buchan. about 87% of the prediction of Eq. the dike swarm: 2. This is well within the error for estimates of the size of the Muskox feeder dikes and for the ratio of feeder dike surface area to flood basalt surface area. For example. Large circle: results from MacKenzie dike swarm using the surface area of the dike swarm and the width of the feeder dikes to the associated Muskox intrusions.

not 11 km. our data on cumulative superplume magmatism is incomplete. by extrapolation. most superplume eras are of comparable duration in both the Precambrian and the Phanerozoic. As a result. we have artificially truncated all estimated widths of feeder dikes at 1 km (Table 5). 34. 35. The geochronological data on layered intrusions can be used to define the lengths of superplume eras (Table 5). Therefore. we eliminated well-dated events with overlapping age data on both flood basalts and feeder dikes and/or on more than one set of feeder dikes.D. and 36 in Table 7. Although most of our dikes do not represent such funnel shaped layered intrusions. Because the Great Dike is the widest of the known layered intrusions. the correct width to use in calculating the original lateral extent of the flood basalts emanating from the Great Dike is 1 km.) Therefore. The intensity of magmatic activity during an individual superplume event can only be estimated from the data on flood basalts and maximum dike widths shown in Tables 2 and 6. For example. we also have information on the total surface area covered by the resulting flood basalts that we can use to compare to Precambrian superplume eras. It is not possible to estimate the flood basalt surface area of the superplume eras numbered 30. 1987). Therefore.e. superplume eras have occurred over time periods ranging from 4 to 32 Ma in duration (Table 6). Because the age resolution of the Phanerozoic events is much better. This is the best option we have until more gravity surveys are performed over funnel shaped layered intrusions. but a detailed gravity survey estimates that its feeder dike is about 1 km wide (Podmore and Wilson. and the Gardar Giant Dikes in Greenland (Ernst and Buchan. it is unlikely that any of the funnel-shaped intrusions has a feeder dike over 1 km in width. We obtained an estimate for the surface area covered by flood basalt magmatism during each superplume era by adding the estimated surface areas of all the flood basalt provinces associated with a particular era [as derived from Eqs. (1) and (2)]. extrude enough lava to cover the entire surface area of the Earth.6 km wide would. but we have not found information indicating that the Avenavero dikes have the necessary synformal cumulate layering (Rickwood. Phanerozoic superplume eras can be resolved much more readily than those in the Precambrian. but their sizes cannot be used to determine the relative intensity of the associated magmatism. (We note that a dike that was 2. Cumulative extent of eras of superplume magmatism In the Phanerozoic.. 1979). Because they are up to two kilometers wide. A. Nevertheless. For each of the events listed. Abbott. Because our method can estimate total surface area from a limited data set (i. The width of the feeder dike to these layered intrusions can be determined from gravity surveys or from along strike studies. the Penikat Layered Intrusion in Finland. A gravity survey over the 2 km wide layered intrusion (dike) at Narankavaara in Finland finds that the feeder dike is 1 km wide at depth (Alapieti et al. the Avenavero feeder dikes in South America might also be such layered intrusions. 1990). we have to avoid counting a given event more than once. one-third of a rifted triple junction). a few do. the Ushushwana intrusion in South Africa. 8. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 285 lateral extent of a flood basalt province. 1997b). the Great Dike in Zimbabwe. the Great Dike of Rhodesia has a maximum width of 11 km.H.E. These funnel shaped dikes are the Binneringie/Jimberlana dikes in Australia. .

Of the 36 major superplume eras we have identified. and it is unclear whether they should be included in a given superplume era. In these cases. our data are sufficient to provide a minimum surface area estimate for 30 eras and a maximum surface area estimate for 32 eras. 75 99 144 185 206 259 379 591 727 780 1100 1111 1142 1279 1760 1790 1859 1886 1891 2041 2116 2168 2211 2220 2238 2413 2451 2494 2506 2688 2775 2787 2903 2932 3024 3812 End. A. the flood basalt surface areas were included only in the estimate of the maximum surface area and not in the estimate of the minimum surface area. Abbott. m. 53 82 112 181 197 246 361 590 721 778 1098 1103 1139 1265 1758 1788 1844 1880 1890 2038 2111 2165 2207 2217 2233 2409 2433 2487 2504 2681 2696 2784 2899 2924 3022 3810 Duration. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Some dike and flood basalt events have ambiguous ages.y. 22 17 32 4 9 13 18 1 6 2 2 8 3 14 2 2 15 6 1 3 5 3 4 3 5 4 18 7 2 7 79 3 4 8 2 2 . m.286 D.y.E.y. The resulting table (Table 7) shows a list of superplume events and eras through time and the probable ranges in the surface areas of their associated flood basalts.H. m. Table 6 Duration of major superplume eras Era number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Start.

61E+06 7.5 122. area.00E+06 2.5 12.00E+05 1.86E+06 1.5 3.63E+06 1. km2 8.95E+06 3.1 10 10.62E+05 7. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Table 7 Minimum and maximum size of superplume eras and events Name Iceland flows North Atlantic flows Deccan traps Peary Land dikes Madagascar flows Rio Grande rise flows Broken Ridge flows Venezuelan-Columbian flows Kerguelen Plateau flows Hess Rise flows Alpha Ridge Plateau flows Manihiki Plateau flows Wallaby Plateau flows Ontong Java Plateau flows Parana-Serra Gelal flows/dikes Shatsky Rise flows Magellan Rise flows Ferrar Dolerite flows Karoo Province flows CAMP dikes/flows Siberian traps flows Emeishan-Song Da flows St Malo dikes East European craton flows Chara Sinsk dikes Antrim plateau flows Grenville dikes Thule dikes Ganna Kouriep dikes Borden dikes Mundine well dikes Hottah McKenzie Mt flows Willouran Volcanics flows Bistjarvi-Laanilla dikes Champ de Mers dikes Keweenawan flows Guruve Deweras dikes Umkondo Dolerite flows Pidgeon River dikes Abitibi dikes Gardar (Tugtotoq) dikes Sundsjo dike Sudbury dikes Older Gardar dikes Market dolerite dikes Age.95E+06 1.61E+07 Event no NI:0 1 1 1 2 2 2 NI:(2) NI:(2) NI:(2) NI:(2.95E+06 1. Abbott.25E+06 1.37E+05 (contined on next page) .5 1260 Error 7.22E+05 7.37E+05 4.5 118.H.6 3 3.5 1259.63E+06 1.37E+05 4.4 10 5 1 0.75 377.25E+06 1.5 682 717 724 755 779 827 1036.24E+06 5. A.00E+05 5.20E+06 7.61E+06 4. area.10E+05 1.5 111 118.32E+06 7.1 270 2.5 590.86E+06 1.75E+05 7.63E+06 5.28E+06 7.18E+07 4.5 25 11 4 3 2 6 55.08E+06 7.61E+06 7.5 59.35E+06 6.37E+05 2.6 183.62E+05 7.15 131.6 1154 1213 1238.8 5.5 6.7 1100 1104.30E+06 8.33E+06 2.00E+06 2.15 254.54E+06 8.5 14 12.E.6 3.37E+05 2.67E+06 5.37E+05 2.37E+05 7.00E+06 3.37E+05 7.05E+06 3.37E+05 7.32E+06 7.D.3 3 2 16 18 4 56.21E+06 4.08E+06 7.75 19.7 1110 1140.37E+05 4.11E+06 2.95E+06 1.04E+07 5.00E+05 2.95E+06 1.60E+06 1.00E+05 1.35 140 145 183.10E+05 1. km2 8.21E+06 2.5 1.6 6.28E+06 7.50E+05 2.3) 3 3 3 3 3 NI:(3) 4 4 5 6 6 NI:6a 7 7 NI:7a 8 NI:8a NI:(9) 9 NI:9a 10 NI:10a NI:10b NI:10c 11 11 12 12 13 NI:(13) NI:13a NI:13b NI:(14) NI:(14) Min.92E+06 8.5 531.63E+06 1.00E+06 2.61E+06 6.37E+05 7.72E+07 4.37E+05 2.78E+06 9.00E+06 1.45 66 87. km2 8.37E+05 2.55 61.05E+06 287 Max.5 2 4.5 18.21E+06 2.8 1 2 20 11.84E+07 4.04E+07 4.37E+05 2.20E+06 1.62E+05 7.2 8.37E+05 5.61E+06 4.5 107.65E+06 7.7 202 252.55 88 91 100 100.61E+06 7. Ma 7.5 10 Area.37E+05 7.61E+06 6.95E+06 7.40E+05 4.5 20 6.65E+06 1.9 330 368.5 1058 1097.00E+05 5.37E+05 7.65E+06 7.08E+06 7.25E+06 4.

72E+05 2.72E+05 7.37E+05 7.84E+07 1. Foglo) Avanavero dikes II? (Roraima)* Melville Bugt dikes Hame dikes (Ansio) Tiruvannamali dikes Hame dikes (Virmala) Dharwar dikes Oenpelli dikes Uruguayan Dikes Zyzdal-Zalesskaya Dikes (Korosten)* Avanavero dikes I? (Roraima)* Dharmapuri dikes Cuthbert Dikes (younger Molson) Avayalik dikes Onega plateau flows Kennedy dikes Lac de Gras dikes Kangamuit younger dikes Ft.06E+06 2.10E+05 7.37E+05 1.18E+07 1.5 4 10.H.07E+05 1.5 1.37E+05 2. km2 1.26E+07 7.37E+07 4.95E+06 4.37E+07 7.10E+05 1.37E+07 7.3 2.37E+05 1.37E+07 7.07E+05 1.3 2219.37E+07 7.72E+05 1.10E+05 6.06E+06 2.37E+07 7.00E+06 6.37E+07 4.37E+05 1.55E+08 6.05 2235 2238 2410.08E+06 4.61E+06 1.4 6.37E+05 7.63E+06 1.5 4.37E+05 7.37E+07 4.4 2419.7 2200 2209 2214 2214.63E+06 Event no 14 NI:(14) NI:14a NI:14b NI:14c NI:14d NI:14e NI:14f NI:14g NI:14h NI:14i NI:14j NI:14k NI:14l 15 16 NI:(17) 18 19 NI:19a NI:19b NI:19c 20 NI:20a 21 21 NI(21) NI(21) NI(22) 22 NI:22a NI:(23) 23 NI:(23) NI:(23) 24 25 25 26 NI:26a 27 27 NI:(27.95E+06 4.8 1789 1822 1882.5 24 10 3.37E+07 4.E.7 35 2 10 12.288 Table 7 (continued) Name D.37E+07 7.72E+05 7.37E+05 1.37E+05 5.5 1975 2010 2026.37E+05 7.26E+07 7.18E+07 4.8 1890.9 2 42 2.40E+07 (continued on next page) .47E+06 Max. area.61E+06 1.28) 28 Min.37E+05 1. km2 5.03E+06 7.25E+07 7.37E+07 7. Sister dikes) Senneterre dikes Nippising flows Kikkertavik dikes Antarctica dikes Binneringie/Jimberlana dikes* Lewisian-Scourian dikes Koillismaa dikes* (also Vinela) Penikat dike*(also Hearst) Matachewan dikes Mistassini dikes Rampur flows Streich dikes(feeder to Agnew) 4.5 2436 2440 2466 2470 2486 2491 Error 4 80 31 38 26 30.72E+05 7.42E+07 4.18E+07 7.72E+05 2.26E+07 7.28) NI:(27.47E+08 4.6 2 7 2.84E+07 1.37E+05 3.5 1620 1645 1646 1650 1667 1668 1690 1726 1758.37E+07 7. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Age.06E+06 2.37E+05 7.84E+07 7.5 2039. Abbott.95E+06 4.37E+07 1.95E+06 4.5 50 35 6 10 8 31 10 11 0.18E+07 1.37E+07 7.5 2113 2114. Ma 1270 1330 1508 1518 1545 1558. km2 1.37E+05 7.84E+07 1.66E+06 7. A.72E+05 1.07E+05 1.72E+05 7.37E+05 7.06E+06 7.5 2076.37E+05 7.37E+05 7.27E+06 Muskox/MacKenzie dikes Pilanesberg dikes Jinchuan dike Hallefors dike Breven dike Aland-Aboland dikes(Korso.61E+06 7.67E+06 1.03E+06 7.37E+07 4.10E+05 1.72E+05 2.37E+05 7.37E+07 1.42E+07 4.37E+05 7.7 2183.5 2120 2123 2145 2166.37E+07 7.95E+06 4.3 5.37E+05 7.18E+07 9.84E+07 7.37E+05 7.28) NI:(27.06E+06 4. Frances dikes Kovero-Koli dikes Marathon dikes Kenora-Kabetogama dikes Pippolanmaki-Kutsu dikes Cauchon (older Molson) dikes Biscotasing dikes Birrimian flows Wyoming Bighorn II dikes Klotz basic dikes Sukkertoppen dikes (Pakitsoq.37E+05 7.95E+06 4.18E+07 1. area.14E+05 9.37E+07 7.37E+05 7.5 5 10 23 20 69 5 Area.37E+05 2.37E+07 1.5 67 10 25 1.13E+07 9.37E+07 4.37E+05 4.25E+07 7.84E+07 7.03E+06 7.37E+07 7.95E+06 7.4 3.

37E+05 Possible duplications of the same event have been removed. area. the largest Precambrian superplume era produced enough lava to cover 20 times the surface area covered during the largest Phanerozoic superplume era. 5b).3 45 4 2 5 58 40 25 Area. None of the Phanerozoic superplume eras is in the top 10.E. at  1. The largest problem with the data on these 29 events is inadequate geochronology.75.3 2725 2747 2771 2782 2826 2875 3485 Error 25 14 22 8.37E+07 1.10E+05 7. 1. When the data from Table 7 are plotted in a weighted time series (Fig. from the largest yet known (1) to the smallest (36) (Table 8).H. Minimum surface areas for events only defined by parenthesis are assumed to be 4. additional superplume eras will be identified. Based on the ratio of maximum widths of feeder dikes.44. Ma 2528 2596 2698 2713.1 Ga.76 Ga. If the event number is in parentheses. We are certain that as more geochronological data are published. Based on cumulative surface areas. 1.37E+05 1. There is no data for eras 30.37E+07 3. 2. but their ages are so poorly defined that they overlap with better-defined events. Abbott.82E+06 7. the weighted superplume time series has almost no amplitude for the past 1. the three largest superplume eras apparently occurred in the Archean. .58E+05 1. A.10E+06 1. It is clear that the extent and intensity of both individual Precambrian superplume events and superplume eras dwarfs that of superplume events and eras occurring during Phanerozoic time. Events labeled as NI were not included in Table 6 because their amplitudes in the time series in Fig.37E+05 7.67E+06 2. Overall.8. which do not fit into any of the age ranges of the 36 major superplume eras. 9.61E+07 3. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Table 7 (continued) Name Kangamuit older dikes Great Dyke* Golden Mile dike Klipriversberg flows Fortescue-Kylena flows Sylvania Inlier Dikes Black Range/Cajuput dike Derdepoort flows Wyoming Bighorn I dikes Ushushuwana dikes* Tarssartoq-Amerilik dikes Age. but the mean age is outside the range defined for that superplume era.4. the age errors allow the superplume event to lie within a given superplume era. the largest single Precambrian superplume covered 10 times the surface area of the largest single Phanerozoic superplume.10E+05 4. km2 7.37E+07 1.37E+07 7.35. area.10E5 km2 However. the inferred surface areas of those flood basalts are included in the maximum area estimate but not the minimum area estimate of the superplume era.18E+08 289 Max. There are six dominant peaks in the time series. In that case. and 36. all tied for fourth place. and 2.37E+05 Event no NI:(29) NI:29a 31 31 31 31 31 NI:(32) NI:(32) NI:(33) NI:35a Min.37E+05 7.D.34. Many of the 29 superplume events have very large inferred sizes. 2.66E+06 7.95E+06 7.10E+05 7. km2 7.37E+07 1. we ranked the superplume eras in order of size. it is clear that there has been a tremendous decrease in superplume intensity and volume since the Archean.18E+08 4.37E+07 7.65. Relative magnitudes of superplume events and eras over time Using the methods discussed above and using the data presented in Tables 1–7. Using the calculated surface areas. there are 29 individual superplume events in our data set. km2 4. 1A are too small. There are seven eras whose size is indistinguishable.

37E+05 Ranking (min size) 25 15 17 14 19 12 20 27 11 26 27 27 16 13 24 27 18 22 23 6 16 16 27 9 10 4 4 9 7 7 4 27 4 28 18 28 4 4 29 24 18 5 27 27 27 Ranking (max size) 33 22 13 15 26 17 27 35 16 34 35 35 21 18 31 35 25 29 30 8 5 23 35 6 14 4 4 12 9 9 4 35 4 36 25 36 4 4 35 32 25 7 35 35 35 (continued on next page) .63E+06 1.11E+06 2.72E+05 2.37E+05 Maximum area.95E+06 4. A.62E+05 7.37E+05 7.37E+05 7.37E+05 7.05E+06 9.65E+06 7.32E+06 7.06E+06 2.37E+07 4.37E+07 7.63E+06 1.18E+07 4.37E+05 2.37E+05 1.18E+07 9.00E+06 2.03E+06 7.05E+06 3.61E+06 4.84E+07 7.08E+06 7.37E+05 7.37E+07 7.92E+06 2.62E+05 7.18E+07 1.04E+07 4.37E+07 7.78E+06 5.00E+06 2.63E+06 8.E.26E+07 7.95E+06 1.37E+07 4.72E+05 7.37E+05 4.32E+06 7.37E+05 7.37E+05 2.35E+06 6.03E+06 7.28E+06 7.84E+07 1. km2 8.37E+05 7.21E+06 2.37E+05 7.72E+05 7.26E+07 7.61E+06 6.290 D.21E+06 2. km2 8.37E+05 1.00E+05 5.37E+05 5.72E+05 2.37E+07 1.37E+05 7.H.37E+05 7.37E+07 7. Abbott.61E+06 7.95E+06 4.25E+06 1.04E+07 5.95E+06 4.37E+07 7.84E+07 1.37E+07 7.95E+06 1.13E+07 9.37E+07 1.37E+05 7. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Table 8 Size ranking of superplume events and eras Duration 0–15* 53–79 82–99 112–144 181–185 197–206 246–259 320–340* 361–379 513–550* 590–591 657–707* 721–727 752–758* 778–780 821–833* 981–1092* 1044–1072* 1098–1100 1103–1111 1139–1142 1195–1231* 1235–1243* 1265–1279 1477–1539* 1480–1556* 1519–1571* 1528–1589* 1570–1670* 1610–1680* 1640–1652* 1640–1660* 1659–1675* 1637–1699* 1680–1700* 1715–1737* 1758–1760 1788–1790 1844–1859 1880–1886 1890–1891 1951–1999* 2000–2020* 2023–2030* 2038–2041 Number NI:0 1 2 3 4 5 6 NI:6a 7 NI:7a 8 NI:8a 9 NI:9a 10 NI:10a NI:10b NI:10c 11 12 13 NI:13a NI:13b 14 NI:14a NI:14b NI:14c NI:14d NI:14e NI:14f NI:14g NI:14h NI:14i NI:14j NI:14k NI:14l 15 16 NI:(17) 18 19 NI:19a NI:19b NI:19c 20 Minimum area.08E+06 7.10E+05 1.18E+07 1.65E+06 7.95E+06 4.37E+07 4.61E+06 7.37E+07 7.37E+05 5.25E+06 1.28E+06 7.84E+07 7.06E+06 2.00E+05 5.

27E+06 5.37E+07 1.47E+08 6. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 Table 8 (continued) Duration 2072–2081* 2111–2116 2165–2168 2177–2190 2207–2211 2217–2220 2233–2238 2409–2413 2414–2425 2433–2451 2487–2494 2504–2506 2582–2610* 2696–2775 2784–2787 2899–2903 3460–3510 Number NI:20a 21 22 NI:22a 23 24 25 26 NI:26a 27 28 NI:(29) NI:29a 31 NI:(32) NI:(33) NI:35a Minimum area. km2 7. we are still uncertain as to the overall magnitude of superplume activity prior to about 2.37E+05 Maximum area.61E+06 1. the total surface area of preserved continental crust decreases greatly.37E+05 7.10E+05 6.9 Ga. These represent superplume events that are only known from high Mg rocks and/or PGE /Cr rich layered intrusions.10E+05 7. 5 allows us to compare the history of superplume magmatism with the record of other types of events.55E+08 1.42E+07 4. 27th and 16th place. 10. we also construct a composite superplume time series.72E+05 1. A.37E+07 7. Discussion In the preceding sections. In order to compensate for superplume events with no record in dikes or flood basalts.37E+07 1. we have shown how it is possible to derive a history of plume and superplume volcanism on the surface of the Earth by using plume-generated features that survive in the geological record.08E+06 4.37E+05 1. The composite time series (Fig. The composite superplume time series shows that there were superplume events after 1.67E+06 1. Thus.H.40E+07 7.82E+06 7. Note that there are many superplumes tied for 4th.42E+07 4. The weighted superplume time series has many missing events.37E+05 3.18E+08 4.10E+05 4. As we go back to earlier time periods.63E+06 4. .10E+05 7.07E+05 1. 5c) is a sum of the weighted superplume time series with an unweighted superplume time series derived from the high Mg rocks and layered intrusions (Fig.10E+05 7.E.1 Ga and prior to 2.07E+05 1.25E+07 7.47E+06 4. The overall degree of deformation also increases.18E+08 1.72E+05 1.25E+07 7. 5a). The chronology of superplume events over Earth history shown in Fig.9 Ga. Abbott.37E+05 4.D. We have shown that both individual superplumes events and superplume eras were much larger in the Precambrian than in the Phanerozoic. km2 7.37E+05 Ranking (min size) 27 21 16 31 27 30 8 3 28 1 13 29 4 2 29 29 27 291 Ranking (max size) 35 24 20 38 19 37 11 3 36 1 10 35 4 2 28 4 35 Durations for events and eras have two sources: Table 6 (Duration of major superplume eras) and the errors of individual radiometric ages for superplume events (*). Both of these effects decrease the likelihood that large feeder dikes will be found and recognized.

(B) Weighted time series is constructed by adding gaussians whose initial size is determined by the age and age error of superplume type flood basalts and dikes. Each individual gaussian is multiplied by the surface area of the flood basalt inferred from the restored surface area of the flood basalt or our empirical relationship between maximum width of feeder dikes and total surface area covered by flood basalts. 5. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 The two most dominant superplume eras in the Proterozoic occurred circa 1. (C) Sum of the time series in A and B. Abbott. (A) time series constructed by adding gaussians derived from the ages and age errors of superplume type high Mg rocks and layered intrusions. coupled with increases in the oxygen content of the atmosphere (Kasting. Interestingly. these two periods correspond with the periods when the bulk of the Fe in Precambrian iron formations was deposited (Isley. We suggest that the combination of massive amounts of tholeiitic volcanism.8 and 2. All time series are smoothed by setting the minimum error of well-dated ages to 5 my.E.292 D. 1995. 1987) produced a synergy of conditions that resulted in the deposition of massive quantities of Fe on passive continental margins. 1999).4 Ga ago. A. Isley and Abbott. Fig. .H. Superplume time series.

7 and 1. These dikes are very poorly dated.65 Ga. 1980. 1994).E. between 14 and 18% of the Earth’s surface. at least. and (4) Layered intrusions with enrichments in Cr and/or PGEs. A.5 km away from the wider dike sections that are layered intrusions (Hatton and Von Gruenewaldt.4 Ga. Because of the gravity surveys over it. we consider the superplume era at 1. The ages of the resulting continental growth spurt. Overall.9 Ga. covering about 73. Two issues that remain are the sizes of the largest superplume events and of most events prior to 2. Taking the errors of our empirical predictions into account. However. This conclusion is interesting in view of the young age of the basaltic surface of Venus (Head. The maximum widths of the Avanavero dikes in South America largely define the size of the superplume era at 1. these events covered. This observation implies that the largest Archean superplume events were at least 10 times larger than the largest Phanerozoic superplume events. (3) Maximum feeder dike widths greater than 70 m. 1994.7 Ga. which makes it likely that they are of significantly different geological ages. our superplume record may be recapitulating for the Archean Earth what we now see on the surface of Venus. 2002). the thermal evolution of Venus is less advanced than that of the Earth (Taylor.9 Ga. Taken together.000. 1989). these six events could have resurfaced the entire Earth with basalt. Our ranking of superplume events shows that the . without more geophysical constraints on feeder dike width. Arkani Hamed et al. Conclusions We defined four geological proxies for superplume activity: (1) High-Mg rocks (per Isley and Abbott. Our results show that overall superplume activity has progressively declined over the past 2. At 2. Herrick. We have shown that by using these proxies for mantle superplume magmatism in conjunction with their age dates. There are two sets of dikes with differing orientation. 1990). with ages ranging from 1650 to possibly as old as 1800 Ma (Ernst and Buchan. we believe that it is likely that we have underestimated the size of the superplume events at 2. Thus. Isley / Journal of Geodynamics 34 (2002) 265–307 293 One unexpected finding is the relatively small size of the peaks in the weighted plume time series at 2.. 11.000 km2. Nevertheless. other large dikes. would then be younger than the age of primary addition of the basaltic continental crust. Abbott. 2001). 1991.000 km2.7 Ga. (2) Massive flood basalt provinces with an original surface area greater than 410. we are able to determine the duration and intensity of superplumes over Earth history. Thus. Head. Venus has been compared many times to the Archean Earth (Solomon.H.9 Ga. Because of its larger size and higher radioactive element content. which have both been identified as major periods of continental growth. There are several possible explanations. 1993). Thus. we have a problem in the paucity of dike swarms of that age. if defined by the ages of granites. our best estimate is that the largest Archean superplumes were at least 10 times larger than the largest Phanerozoic superplumes. At 2.65 Ga to be somewhat uncertain. such as the Jimberlana dike in Australia have widths of 1. we are confident that the feeders to the Great Dike of Zimbabwe and the Narakavaara dike were at least 1 km in width. there are six individual superplume events (Table 7) with conservative feeder dike widths of at least 1 km and conservative lateral extents of at least 14–18% of the planet. the addition of plume lavas to an extending passive margin (along with Superior type iron formation) would not result in granitoid production until the next Wilson cycle.D.

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