The enigmatic Chad lineament revisited with global gravity and gravity-gradient fields
Carla Braitenberg, Patrizia Mariani, Jörg Ebbing, Michal Sprlak, 2011. "The enigmatic Chad lineament revisited with global gravity and gravity-gradient fields", The Formation and Evolution of Africa: A Synopsis of 3.8 Ga of Earth History, D. J. J. Van Hinsbergen, S. J. H. Buiter, T. H. Torsvik, C. Gaina, S. J. Webb
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The crustal structure of northern Africa is puzzling, large areas being of difficult access and concealed by the Sahara. The new global gravity models are of unprecedented precision and spatial resolution and offer a new possibility to reveal the structure of the lithosphere beneath the Sahara. The gravity gradients correlate better than gravity with geological features such as rifts, fold belts and magmatic deposits and intrusions. They are an ideal tool to follow geological units (e.g. basement units) below a stratigraphic layer of varying density (e.g. sediments). We focus on the Chad lineament, a 1300 km arcuate feature located between the west and central African rift system. The gravity fields show differences between the lineament and the west and central African rift system. Along the centre of the lineament high-density rocks must be present, which relate to either magmatic or metamorphic rocks. This is very different to the lineaments of the western and central-west African rift system which are filled with sediments. Considering present models of rifting and the absence of topography, the lineament cannot be coeval to the west and central African rift system and is most likely older. We suggest that the lineament is a structural element of the Saharan Metacraton.
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The African continent preserves a long geological record that covers almost 75% of Earth’s history. The Pan-Africanorogeny (c.600–500—Ma) brought together old continental kernels (West Africa, Congo, Kalahari and Tanzania) to form Gondwana and subsequently the supercontinent Pangaea by the late Palaeozoic. The break-up of Pangaea since the Jurassic and Cretaceous, primarily through opening of the Central Atlantic, Indian, and South Atlantic oceans, in combination with the complicated subduction history to the north, gradually shaped the African continent.
This volume contains 18 contributions that discuss the geology of Africa from the Archaean to the present day. It celebrates African geology in two ways: first, it highlights multidisciplinary Earth science research by viewing the formation and evolution of Africa from 18 different angles; second, it celebrates the work of Kevin Burke and Lewis Ashwal and portrays the wide range of interests and research angles that have characterized these two scientists throughout their careers, working in Africa, and studying African geology.