Abstract

The existence and subsequent fragmentation of the Gondwana supercontinent are well established in the geological literature. Debate continues, however, on the exact prefragmentation geometry and the causative process of breakup. The eastern Walvis Ridge and the Agulhas and the Mozambique plateaus, which surround southern Africa, exhibit geophysically anomalous oceanic crust and lithosphere. In the vicinity of these aseismic bathymetry highs, the crust is considerably thicker than normal, and the uppermost mantle has lower than normal densities and seismic velocities. Within a Gondwana framework, these anomalies coincide with a highly fragmented region at the triple junction of the three major plates (Africa, South America, and Antarctica). This anomalous oceanic crust and lithosphere, the ubiquitous and contemporaneous magmatism, and the basin and range-type tectonism of the region are consonant with a hot-mantle-upflow tectonic framework as the causative process for fragmentation.

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