A review of tectonic models for the rifted margin of Afar: Implications for continental break-up and passive margin formation

Zwaan, Frank; Corti, Giacomo; Keir, Derek; Sani, Federico (2020). A review of tectonic models for the rifted margin of Afar: Implications for continental break-up and passive margin formation. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 164, p. 103649. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2019.103649

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The Afar region represents a unique opportunity for the study of ongoing rift development and the various phases of continental break-up. In this work we discuss the geological and geomorphological characteristics of the Western Afar Margin (WAM) and the various scenarios proposed for its evolution. A drastic decline in topography and crustal thickness from the Ethiopian Plateau into the Afar Depression, as well as a series of marginal grabens and a general presence of antithetic faulting characterize the WAM. Present-day extension is mostly accommodated at the rift axis in Afar, yet the margin is still undergoing significant deformation.

Models for the evolution of the WAM involve either isostatic loading effects due to erosion, rifting-induced block rollover, large-scale detachment fault development or crustal flexure due to lithospheric stretching or magmatic loading. This wide variation of potential mechanisms for WAM development may reflect a general structural variation along the margin and in Afar, involving different stages of rift formation and possibly indicating two distinct pathways leading to continental break-up.

In order to better understand the rifting mechanisms and to fully exploit the research potential of the region, further assessment of the WAM and its relation to Afar will be necessary. The findings of such future work, combined with data from rifts and passive margins from around the globe will be of great importance to assess the processes involved in continental breakup and to better constrain the sequence of events leading from initial rifting to break-up and oceanic spreading.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Tectonics

UniBE Contributor:

Zwaan, Frank

Subjects:

500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

1464-343X

Publisher:

Elsevier Science

Funders:

[42] Schweizerischer Nationalfonds ; [UNSPECIFIED] UK Natural Environment Research Council ; [UNSPECIFIED] Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca (Italy) ; [UNSPECIFIED] PRIN (Italy

Projects:

[UNSPECIFIED] The breaking up of continents: the Western Afar Margin as a case study

Language:

English

Submitter:

Frank Zwaan

Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2020 07:52

Last Modified:

26 Oct 2021 00:25

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2019.103649

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.142114

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/142114

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