Data-acquisition difficulties and propriety restrictions on industry data have necessitated liberal extrapolations and generalizations in previous tectono-structural studies of the Gulf of Guinea cul-de-sac. This region is the locus of a postulated Late Cretaceous triple junction whose arms were the transform-dominated Equatorial Atlantic, the northward-propagating South Atlantic, and the Benue Trough aulacogen. Oceanic crust has been inferred to underlie most of the thick sedimentary wedge of the oil-prolific Niger Delta basin.
Integrated interpretation of new aeromagnetic data of the Geological Survey of Nigeria and existing geophysical data corroborates previous work on the general structure of the marginal basins. New aeromagnetic data, however, reveal a detail structure more complex than previously known. Low-frequency magnetic anomalies over the Niger delta indicate that oceanic crust extends northward to about Onitsha. From Onitsha, the edge of oceanic crust trends southwestward along the Benin hinge line (an apparent continental continuation of either the Chain fracture zone or a new Okitipupa fracture zone) and also wiggles southeastward (adjoined by a wide margin of transitional crust) toward the shelf break off Cameroon. Linear magnetic anomalies trending northeast indicate about 7 fracture zones beneath the Niger Delta basin. The region of highfrequency magnetic anomalies west of the Niger delta represent the Okitipupa basement ridge complex, which separates the Niger Delta basin from the Dahomey embayment. In this embayment, 2 wide bands of intervening high- and low-frequency aeromagnetic anomalies are interpreted to represent a basement high or ridge and a fault-bounded trough, respectively.
The change in the directions of fracture-zone trends (from east-northeast in the southeast, to northeast in most of the Niger delta area, and then to a more easterly direction over most oceanic areas) indicates 3 phases of tectonic evolution recorded as changes in sea-floor spreading directions in the Gulf of Guinea cul-de-sac.