© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.Stratigraphic, petrological and geophysical studies suggest that the Late Permian (~ 260 Ma) Emeishan Large Igneous Province in southern China may be formed by mantle plume activity. However, the plume impingement hypothesis remains controversial since interpretations based on volcano-stratigraphic analyses around plume induced domal uplift/inner zone suggest that the volcanism occurred under submarine environment rather than elevated sub-aerial (above sea level) conditions, usually associated with the dynamic topography effects of the ascending mantle plumes. Here, 2-D numerical and 3-D scaled laboratory (analogue) plume experiments are used to explore the coupled dynamics of plume-mantle-lithosphere interaction and their evolution of surface topography characteristics. Experimental results show that the initial (plume incubation) phase is characterized by rapid, transient domal uplift above the plume axis, subsequently, as plume head flattens, there is short wavelength topographic variation (ie. subsidence and uplift occurs synchronously) due to the shear stress imposed onto the base of the lithosphere and loss of gravitational potential energy. The surface depressions predicted by the plume models, next to the plume axial/inner/uplift zone, may explain the deposition of submarine volcanics at Lake Erhai, Dali in the western side and Xiluo and Daqiao in the eastern side, which may resolve the plume controversy for the formation of Emeishan Large Igneous Province. Notably, while experimental results from these two different techniques show some differences, (e.g much bigger plume head for the laboratory experiment), the overall characteristics of the predictions have robust similarities. For instance, the extension above the plume axis may explain the enigmatic cause of the Panxi rift system, in the middle of the inner zone where giant dyke swarms radiate from, and mafic magma underplatings in the lower crust has been described by seismological studies.