Strain accommodation in transitional rifts: extension by magma intrusion and faulting in Ethiopian rift magmatic segments
Published:January 01, 2006
M. Casey, C. Ebinger, D. Keir, R. Gloaguen, F. Mohamed, 2006. "Strain accommodation in transitional rifts: extension by magma intrusion and faulting in Ethiopian rift magmatic segments", The Afar Volcanic Province within the East African Rift System, G. Yirgu, C. J. Ebinger, P. K. H. Maguire
Download citation file:
Active deformation within the northern part of the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER) occurs within approximately 60 km-long, 20 km-wide ‘magmatic segments’ that lie within the 80 km-wide rift valley. Geophysical data reveal that the crust beneath the <1.9 Ma magmatic segments has been heavily intruded; magmatic segments accommodate strain via both magma intrusion and faulting. We undertake field and remote sensing analyses of faults and eruptive centres in the magmatic segments to estimate the relative proportion of strain accommodated by faulting and magma intrusion and the kinematics of Quaternary faults. Up to half the ≤10 km-long normal faults within the Boset—Kone and Fantale—Dofen magmatic segments have eruptive centres or extrusive lavas along their length. Comparison of the deformation field of the largest Quaternary fault and an elastic half-space dislocation model indicates a down-dip length of 10 km, coincident with the seismogenic layer thickness and the top of the seismically imaged mafic intrusions. These relations suggest that Quaternary faults are primarily driven by magma intrusion into the mid- to upper crust, which triggers faulting and dyke intrusion into the brittle upper crust. The active volcanoes of Boset, Fantale and Dofen all have elliptical shapes with their long axes in the direction N105, consistent with extension direction derived from earthquake focal mechanisms. Calderas show natural strains ranging from around 0.30 for Boset, 0.55 for Fantale, and 0.94 for Dofen. These values give extension strain rates of the order of 0.3 microstrain per year, comparable to geodetic models. Structural analyses reveal no evidence for transcurrent faults linking right-stepping magmatic segments. Instead, the tips of magmatic segments overlap, thereby accommodating strain transfer. The intimate relationship between faulting and magmatism in the northern MER is strikingly similar to that of slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges, but without the hard linkage zones of transform faults.
Figures & Tables
The Afar Volcanic Province within the East African Rift System
The seismically and volcanically active East African Rift System is an ideal laboratory for continental break-up processes: it encompasses all stages of rift development. Its northernmost sectors within the Afar volcanic province include failed rifts, nascent seafloor spreading, and youthful passive continental margins associated with one or more mantle plumes. A number of models have been proposed to explain the success and failure of continental rift zones, but there remains no consensus on how strain localizes to achieve rupture of 125–250 km thick plates, or on the interaction between the plates and asthenospheric processes. This collection of papers provides new structural, stratigraphic, geochemical and geophysical data and numerical models needed to resolve fundamental questions concerning continental break-up and mantle plume processes. It focuses on how mantle melt intrudes and is distributed through the plate, and how this magma intrusion process controls along-axis segmentation and facilitates break-up.