Reconstructing the Thermo-tectonic history of the Rwenzori Mountains, D. R. Congo

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Sherif Mansour1, Friederike Bauer2, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Anton A Glasmacher1, René W Grobe3 and Matthias Starz1, (1)University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, (2)University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, (3)GeoThermal Engineering GmbH, Karlsruhe, Germany
The Albertine Rift forms the northern section of the western Rift of the East African Rift System (EARS). The Rwenzori Mtns evolved along the eastern rift shoulder of the Albertine Rift, rising up to form a striking feature within the rift valley with elevations reaching 5109 m a.s.l. While, the scarcity of volcanic activity in the Western Rift has raised questions about the Rwenzori Mtns origin and how this fits into the general evolution of the Albertine Rift and the EARS.

Detailed thermochronologic study of Bauer et al., (2013) on the eastern side on Rwenzori Mtns, differentiated it into northern and southern blocks. The northern block cooled faster to ~120 °C in Carboniferous to Permian times. The second cooling event to ~70 °C occurred in Mesozoic time. The third cooling event to surface temperature occurred in the Neogene. While, the southern block shows an earlier onset of cooling at >400 Ma. Temperatures of about 70 °C were reached in Silurian to Devonian times.

During this study, 33 samples were collected from the western side of central Rwenzori. Zircon and apatite fission track and (U/Th)-He techniques were applied on these samples. The apatite fission track data could be divided into three age groups; ~45±11, ~25±5, ~12±2 Ma. These results reveal the difference in thermo-tectonic history between the eastern and western flanks of Rwenzori Mtns and support the tilt uplift geometry hypotheses (e.g. Pickford et al., 1993).


Bauer, F.U., Glasmacher, U.A., Ring, U., Karl, M., Schumann, A., Nagudi, B., 2013. Tracing the exhumation history of the Rwenzori Mountains, Albertine Rift, Uganda, using low-temperature thermochronology, Tectonophysics, 599, 8-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2013.03.032.

Pickford, M., Senut, B., Hadoto, D., 1993. Geology and Palaeobiology of the Albertine Rift Valley Uganda-Zaire, vol. 1. Geology. CIFEG Occas, Orleans. Publication, vol. 24, pp. 1–190.