Mantle upwellings, melt migration and the rifting of Africa: Insights from seismological investigations

Speaker: Michael Kendall
The rifting of continents and eventual formation of ocean basins is a fundamental component of plate tectonics, yet the mechanism for break-up is poorly understood. The East Africa Rift system (EARS) is an ideal place to study this process as it captures the initiation of a rift in the south through to incipient oceanic spreading in north-eastern Ethiopia. A variety of seismic methods can be used to test models of rifting. I will summarise observations from recent seismic experiments in the Ethiopian Rift and Afar. Special attention is given to evidence of seismic anisotropy in the transitional part of the Ethiopian Rift. Collectively, these observations support models of magma assisted rifting, rather than those of simple mechanical stretching.