Controls on magmatic cycles and development of rift topography of the Manda Hararo segment (Afar, Ethiopia): Insights from cosmogenic 3He investigation of landscape evolution

Medynski, S.; Pik, R.; Burnard, P.; Williams, A.; Vye-Brown, C.; Ferguson, David J.; Blard, P-H.; France, L.; Yirgu, G.; Seid, J. I.; Ayalew, D.; Calvert, A.

Crustal extension at mature continental rifts and oceanic ridges occurs by a combination of normal faulting and magma injection, which interact to create rift morphology. Quantifying the relative roles of faulting and melt intrusion in accommodating extension at magmatic rifts remains difficult and requires studies at sufficient spatial and temporal scales to resolve the interaction between these processes. In this study we provide new chronological constraints based on cosmogenic exposure dating for the ∼100 kyr topographic evolution of a young and active magmatic rift segment in Afar, Ethiopia. We combine structural investigations, field mapping, geochemical analysis and cosmogenic 3He exposure dating of lava surfaces in order to investigate the interplay between volcanic activity and fault growth in the northern part of the axial depression, where the rift segment intersects a large stratovolcano. Our results allow us to determine the roles of the various magma reservoirs feeding this rift system and their interactions during accretion over the past 100 kyr. New age data for key lava units allow several magmatic cycles to be distinguished. Each cycle lasts 20–40 ka resulting in periods of high and low magma supply rate. The variations in magma supply rate at the segment extremity strongly affect the development of the rift depression, with the availability of melt controlling the morphological impact of faulting. Melts from different magma reservoirs feeding the segment are chemically distinct and geochemical analysis of lavas from the rift floor allows their respective contributions to maintaining magmatic accretion to be estimated. We propose that melts from the magma reservoir at the northern end of the segment contribute around one-third of the length of this portion of the segment, whereas the mid-segment reservoir is responsible for the remaining two-thirds of the segment accretion.

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Also Published In

Earth and Planetary Science Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
April 23, 2013