Recently published palaeomagnetic data lead to the conception that Africa has been subjected to latitudinal compression during Mesozoic seafloor spreading, and that the meridional taphrogenic lineaments of East Africa have therefore been unable to spread, although underlain by convective mantle complexes comparable to mid-ocean ridge systems. An hypothesis is outlined, based on a synthesis between geological mapping in East Africa and recent geophysical models, showing (1) how the existing taphrogenic system could have developed by the repeated thermotectonic reactivation of protorift dislocations which originated chiefly in the Precambrian, and (2) how localized tensional graben mechanisms could develop in spite of regional compressive stress.

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