Abstract

The North Tanzanian divergence zone along the East African Rift is characterized by active faults and several large volcanoes such as Meru, Ol Doinyo Lengai, and Kilimanjaro. Based on systematic morphostructural analysis of the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission digital elevation model and targeted field work, 14 debris avalanche deposits were identified and characterized, some of them being—to our knowledge—previously unknown. Our field survey around Mount Meru allowed previous “lahar” deposits to be reinterpreted as debris avalanche deposits and three major collapse events to be distinguished, with the two older ones being associated with eruptions. We used topographic lineaments and faults across the North Tanzanian divergence zone to derive the main tectonic trends and their spatial variations and highlight their control on volcano collapse orientation. Based on previous analogue models, the tectonic regime is inferred from the orientation of the collapse scars and/or debris avalanche deposits. We infer two types of regime: extensional and transtensional/strike-slip. The strike-slip regime dominates along the rift escarpment, but an extensional regime is inferred to have operated for the recent sector collapses. The proposed interpretation of sector collapse scars and debris avalanche deposits therefore provides constraints on the tectonic regime in the region. It is possible that, in some cases, movement on regional faults triggered sector collapse.

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