Skip to Main Content
Summary form only given, as follows: Increasing attention is being given to the proposition that some key features of high temperature plasma behaviour are not specific to the plasma state. In particular, the self-organised avalanching and critical gradient phenomenology displayed by piles of sand is believed to be replicated in several plasma contexts. This paper reviews the observational and theoretical evidence for and against this concept in three instances: transport in toroidal fusion experiments; the coupled solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere; and accretion disks in astrophysical objects. Recent progress, drawn from a variety of contexts, in the application of self-organized criticality and related sandpile-type paradigms to plasma systems will be described.