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This drawing shows a "plume" of hot material rising from the interior of a planet.

Plumes

A "mantle plume" is a bubble of material which rises to the surface from deep inside a planet. The plume is the red portion shown in the drawing to the left.

Deep inside a planet it is very hot! Even so, a portion can sometimes be heated even more than its surroundings. This portion begins to rise, like a hot air balloon. Eventually the plume stops rising, and usually it stops close to the surface of the planet. Then it may help to create volcanoes and lava flows.

Sometimes it even pushes the surface upward, forming a rise, as shown in this picture. Rises like this may be found on Venus and Mars.

Hot plumes which rise to the surface help a planet to cool off.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF