The deformation in the Asal Rift (Djibouti) is characterized by magmatic inflation, diking, distributed extension, fissure opening, and normal faulting. An 8 yr time line of surface displacement maps covering the rift, constructed using radar interferometry data acquired by the Canadian satellite Radarsat between 1997 and 2005, reveals the aseismic behavior of faults and its relation with bursts of microseismicity. The observed ground movements show the asymmetric subsidence of the inner floor of the rift with respect to the bordering shoulders accommodated by slip on three of the main active faults. Fault slip occurs both as steady creep and during sudden slip events accompanied by an increase in the seismicity rate around the slipping fault and the Fieale volcanic center. Slip distribution along fault strike shows triangular sections, a pattern not explained by simple elastic dislocation theory. These observations suggest that the Asal Rift faults are in a critical failure state and respond instantly to small pressure changes in fluid-filled fractures connected to the faults, reducing the effective normal stress on their locked section at depth.

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