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Magma-assisted rifting in Ethiopia

Kendall, J.-M., Stuart, G, Ebinger, C.J., Bastow, I.D. and Keir, D. (2005) Magma-assisted rifting in Ethiopia Nature, 433, (7022), pp. 146-148. (doi:10.1038/nature03161).

Record type: Article


The rifting of continents and evolution of ocean basins is a fundamental component of plate tectonics, yet the process of continental break-up remains controversial. Plate driving forces have been estimated to be as much as an order of magnitude smaller than those required to rupture thick continental lithosphere1, 2. However, Buck1 has proposed that lithospheric heating by mantle upwelling and related magma production could promote lithospheric rupture at much lower stresses. Such models of mechanical versus magma-assisted extension can be tested, because they predict different temporal and spatial patterns of crustal and upper-mantle structure. Changes in plate deformation produce strain-enhanced crystal alignment and increased melt production within the upper mantle, both of which can cause seismic anisotropy3. The Northern Ethiopian Rift is an ideal place to test break-up models because it formed in cratonic lithosphere with minor far-field plate stresses4, 5. Here we present evidence of seismic anisotropy in the upper mantle of this rift zone using observations of shear-wave splitting. Our observations, together with recent geological data, indicate a strong component of melt-induced anisotropy with only minor crustal stretching, supporting the magma-assisted rifting model in this area of initially cold, thick continental lithosphere.

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Published date: 2005


Local EPrints ID: 174917
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 79730ba6-8e2f-47fa-8774-37b2757a4621
ORCID for D. Keir: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 18 Feb 2011 09:18
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:10

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Author: J.-M. Kendall
Author: G Stuart
Author: C.J. Ebinger
Author: I.D. Bastow
Author: D. Keir ORCID iD

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