It is a plain to me as to any reader that EPN is eclectic, and in some cases pretty impressionist; how else to write a monthly weblog about the broad spectrum of geoscientific developments? So it is good to see websites with a much narrower focus, yet that manage to inform entertainingly and provocatively. Such a site is www.mantleplumes.org, organised by Gillian Foulger of Durham University, currently a visiting scientist with the Volcano Hazards Team at USGS, Menlo Park, USA. It covers the whole of “plumeology”; the tectonics, the magmatism, ages and wider features, even ideas about the presence or absence of plume-related features on other planets. It has some powerful contributing essayists, such as Don Anderson and Warren Hamilton, who are not averse to scepticism and critiques, and represent work in progress on a book, Plates, Plumes & Paradigms just submitted to the Geological Society of America – a rare event to see preprints of book chapters. It serves an educational role as well, with well-illustrated and up-to-date reviews of the mechanisms involved in large-igneous provinces., and thumbnails on a continent-by continent basis. Jason Morgan came up with the “hot-spot” idea about 33 years ago and launched a revolutionising force in plate tectonics. It is good to see that there is still a vibrancy about the topic.
The hallmark of modern human’s abilities is the art left behind by our ancestors since about 30-40 thousand years ago. Among the most enigmatic are those by Australian native people, that might date back as far as 50 ka. The first were discovered by Joseph Bradshaw and his brother in the Kimberly Ranges of northern Western Australia in 1891. The Geneva-based Bradshaw Foundation (http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/) is developing a comprehensive archive of rock-art images from across the globe, which will uplift anyone who visits it.