Abstract

We describe the first three-dimensional imaging of the termination of a continent-ocean fracture zone (COFZ), the Chain Fracture Zone, located offshore of the Niger Delta. The COFZ marks the abrupt transition between extended continental crust, comprising multiple half-graben, and oceanic crust that has a pervasive seafloor-spreading fabric. It preserves a history of continent-continent shearing followed by oceanic crust accretion and continent-ocean shearing during the inception of Atlantic rifting. The termination is marked by steeply dipping faults with sigmoidal planform and thrusts that probably formed as a result of continent-continent or continent-ocean shearing. These are crosscut by the seafloor-spreading fabric that formed during the subsequent phase of oceanic crust accretion. The accreted oceanic crust is cut by listric and planar faults that curve in the direction of the COFZ, where they terminate. The transition from continental to oceanic crust across the COFZ is sharp and resolvable to ∼100–200 m. Complexes of lava flows emanate from volcanoes along the COFZ, bifurcating and trifurcating down the volcano flanks. The volcanoes are 2–5.5 km wide and 1.4 km in height relative to adjacent oceanic crust and were injected at the COFZ, probably as the spreading center migrated along it.

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