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Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse     
Agostini A., Bonini M., Corti G., Sani F., Mazzarini F. Fault architecture in the Main Ethiopian Rift and comparison with experimental models: Implications for rift evolution and Nubia-Somalia kinematics. In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 301 (3-4) pp. 479 - 492. Elsevier, 2011.
 
 
Abstract
(English)
The Main Ethiopian Rift (MER) offers a complete record of the time-space evolution of a continental rift. We have characterized the brittle deformation in different rift sectors through the statistical analysis of a new database of faults obtained from the integration between satellite images and digital elevation models, and implemented with field controls. This analysis has been compared with the results of lithospheric-scale analogue models reproducing the kinematical conditions of orthogonal and oblique rifting. Integration of these approaches suggests substantial differences in fault architecture in the different rift sectors that in turn reflect an along-axis variation of the rift development and southward decrease in rift evolution. The northernmost MER sector is in a mature stage of incipient continental rupture, with deformation localised within the rift floor along discrete tectono-magmatic segments and almost inactive boundary faults. The central MER sector records a transitional stage in which migration of deformation from boundary faults to faults internal to the rift valley is in an incipient phase. The southernmost MER sector is instead in an early continental stage, with the largest part of deformation being accommodated by boundary faults and almost absent internal faults. The MER thus records along its axis the typical evolution of continental rifting, from fault-dominated rift morphology in the early stages of extension toward magma-dominated extension during break-up. The extrapolation of modelling results suggests that a variable rift obliquity contributes to the observed along-axis variations in rift architecture and evolutionary stage, being oblique rifting conditions controlling the MER evolution since its birth in the Late Miocene in relation to a constant post ca. 11 Ma ~ N100E Nubia-Somalia motion.
URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/earth-and-planetary-science-letters
Subject continental rifting
East African Rift
Main Ethiopian Rift
rift kinematics
plate kinematics


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