Is there a mantle plume below Italy?



Some of the most diverse igneous rocks found on Earth occur along the length of Italy and in many of the islands in the southeastern Tyrrhenian Sea, all the result of Cenozoic magmatism. Magmas extremely rich in alkalis, particularly potassium, and many undersaturated with respect to silica, were erupted, as well as others of calc-alkalic affinity (see legend in Figure 1).

Their origin has been the subject of heated debate, and there is still no general consensus about how they formed. Most attribute them to subduction-related processes (see Beccaluva et al. [2004] for a review); others consider them to be the result of within-plate magmatism [e.g., Vollmer, 1976; Lauecchia and Stoppa, 1996]. Still others consider magmatism the result of a deep, mantle upwelling within a slab window coupled with mixing between isotopically different reservoirs [Gasperini et al., 2002].