Hazards from magmatic rifts
Temporary broadband seismic networks deployed from 2007 to 2011 around the Afar triple junction of the East African Rift System provide insights into seismicity patterns of the actively deforming crust around the 1.86 km3 impounded lake system behind the Tendaho dam. The observed seismicity correlates well with the active magmatic centres around central Afar. The area around the dam site is characterized by a network of intersecting NNE- and NW-trending faults. Seismicity clusters observed in the specified time interval indicate that both fault sets are active and are potential sources of seismogenic hazards. The dam neighbourhood is naturally active and it is a challenge to associate the observed seismic activity to either a change in magmato-tectonic conditions or attribute it to the influence of reservoir load. It is evident that the dam region experiences high levels of seismic and volcano-tectonic unrest, regardless of the origin of the activity. The spatial overlap of narrow zones of crustal seismicity and upper mantle low velocity zones observed in S-wave tomography models suggests that melt production zones guide the distribution of strain during continental rupture. Given its volcanically and seismically active setting, the Tendaho dam site and the surrounding region require continuous monitoring for the safety of downstream populations and development infrastructures in the Afar National Regional State of Ethiopia.
Figures & Tables
A major rifting episode began in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia in September 2005. Over a ten-day period, c. 2.5 km3 of magma were intruded along a 60 km-long dyke separating the Arabian and Nubian plates. Over the next five years, a further 13 dyke intrusions caused continued extension, eruptions and seismicity. This activity led to a renewed international focus on the role of magmatism in rifting, with major international collaborative projects working in Afar and Ethiopia to study the ongoing activity and to place it in a broader context. This book brings together articles that explore the role of magmatism in rifting, from the initiation of continental break-up through to full seafloor spreading. We also explore the hazards related to rifting and the associated volcanism. This work has implications for our understanding of how continents break-up and the associated distribution of resources in rift basins and continental margins.