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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 lithosphere from the deep interior of the planet. The plume is the red portion shown in the drawing to the left. Such plumes are thought to form when a portion of the deep mantle is heated to several hundred degrees hotter than its surroundings. This portion of the mantle is now less dense than its surroundings and begins to rise.

As it nears the surface, the plume may take on a mushroom-like shape, as shown here. The buoyant plume may push the surface upward, forming a rise. It also begins to generate magma (deep inside the planet the pressure was too great to allow the material to melt) some of which escapes to the surface to form volcanoes, lava flows, and rift valleys. Rises like this may be found on Venus and Mars.

Hot plumes which rise from the interior to the surface are part of a planet's cooling process.

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