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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.

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