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LIP record

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This database was originally intended to catalogue extensive mafic igneous events and to evaluate the possible relationship of these events to mantle plumes. We offer it here as a preliminary listing of LIPs, regardless of origin.

Apart from a few minor corrections, the database is from Table 1 in R.E. Ernst and K.L. Buchan (2001), "Large mafic magmatic events through time and links to mantle plume-heads" (chapter 19 in "Mantle Plumes: Their Identification Through Time", Geological Society of America Special Paper 352, edited by R.E. Ernst and K.L. Buchan).

Significant advances have been made to the geology of many regions since this database was published. We are currently working on revisions that will incorporate these advances.

Zipped Microsoft EXCEL and ACCESS versions are available in the downloads section.


Explanatory notes

Event: Type of event listed as “(C)”, continental flood basalt, or “(O)”, oceanic flood basalt.

Location: Location is given both by country and, in parentheses, by geologic domain. The location of the center of the plume head is given for some entries based on the convergence of giant radiating dike swarms (Ernst et al. 1996; Ernst and Buchan 1997a).

Area: Estimates of the areal distribution of each event have large uncertainties and are generally minimum estimates. The areal contribution from dikes is based on the length multiplied by the width of the swarm. For some events, the volume of magma has also been estimated.

Age: Summary age (in Ga) is based on the detailed dating information presented elsewhere in the entry. Dating methods are coded as follows: A = Ar-Ar, K = K-Ar, R = Rb-Sr, S = Sm-Nd, U = U-Pb, P = Pb-Pb, M = paleomagnetism, G = geological correlations, b = baddeleyite, p = plagioclase, r= rutile, t = titanite, and z = zircon. Note that the U-Pb category includes ID-TIMS (isotope dilution, thermal ionization mass spectrometry), SIMS (secondary ionization mass spectrometry, e.g. SHIRMP, sensitive high resolution ion microprobe) and zircon lead evaporation (207Pb/206Pb) ages. There is variation in the uncertainty level associated with published ages. In general, most published U-Pb uncertainties are given at the 2 sigma level, while most K-Ar, Rb-Sr and Ar-Ar uncertainties are given at the 1sigma level. However, some recent Ar-Ar uncertainties are presented at the 2 sigma level. The reader is encouraged to consult the original paper for the uncertainty level and other details of any particular age in this table.

Rating: Events are rated in terms of the likelihood of involvement of a mantle plume head. Ratings are presented in the form Rating (Key Criteria), e.g. A (1v, 3), B (5), C (9vi). Events are rated as A, B and C, where A= confidently linked, B= probably linked, and C= possibly linked – to a mantle plume head. The key criteria used for the rating are summarized according to the following scheme (which is discussed further in the text). Criteria 1-3 apply to an ‘A’ rating, criteria 4-7 to a ‘B’ rating, and 8-10 to a ‘C’ rating.

1 = mafic magmatism > 100 000 sq. km. (or >100 000 cu. km.) and short duration (<10 m.y.). The key types of magmatic units used for this estimate are coded as follows: v= volcanic rocks (mainly flood basalt sequence or its erosional or deformational remnant), s= mafic sill province, i = layered mafic-ultramafic intrusion province, and d = mafic dike swarm.

2 = linkage to present-day hotspot.

3 = giant radiating dike swarm.

4 = mafic magmatism > 100 000 sq. km. (or >100 000 cu. km.) but poorly dated or >20 000 sq. km. (or >20 000 cu. km.) and of short duration. The key unit types, v, s, i, and d, are explained in criteria 1.

5 = giant dike swarm (>300 km in length).

6 = “flood-basalt” or “plume” chemistry according to the cited reference.

7 = komatiites in greenstone belts or picrites in flood basalts.

8 = rift-related (these often show bimodal volcanism).

9 = >20 000 sq. km. (or >20 000 cu. km.) but poorly dated. The key unit types, v, s, i and d, are explained in criteria 1.

10 = separate centers of magmatic activity linked to a cluster of small shallow-sourced plume-heads, but a link with single deep-sourced plume-head is not demonstrated.

References: Selected references are cited as bracketed numbers. Click here for the key to the references and here for the full citations. Click here to download the entire reference list in .RTF format.


Large mafic magmatic events at

0 Ma

250 Ma

500 Ma

1000 Ma

1500 Ma

2000 Ma

2500 Ma

3000 Ma

3500 Ma

Very poorly dated events in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia