Evaluation of the Interplate and Intraplate Deformations of the African Continent Using cGNSS Data

Monday, 15 December 2014
João Pedro Apolinário1, Rui Manuel Silva Fernandes1,2, Machiel S Bos1, Mustapha Meghraoui3 and Jorge Miguel A Miranda4, (1)University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal, (2)Delft Institute for Earth-Oriented Space research, Delft, Netherlands, (3)EOST École et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre, Strasbourg Cedex, France, (4)Instituto Port Mar e Atmosfera, Lisbon, Portugal
Two main plates, Nubia and Somalia, plus some few more tectonic blocks in the East African Rift System (EARS) delimit the African continent. The major part of the external plate boundaries of Africa is well defined by oceanic ridge systems with the exception of the Nubia-Eurasia complex convergence-collision tectonic zone. In addition, the number and distribution of the tectonic blocks along the EARS region is a major scientific issue that has not been completely answered so far. Nevertheless, the increased number of cGNSS (continuous Global Navigation Satellite Systems) stations in Africa with sufficient long data span is helping to better understand and constrain the complex sub-plate distribution in the EARS as well as in the other plate boundaries of Africa.

This work is the geodetic contribution for the IGCP-Project 601 – “Seismotectonics and Seismic Hazards in Africa”. It presents the current tectonic relative motions of the African continent based on the analysis of the estimated velocity field derived from the existing network of cGNSS stations in Africa and bordering plate tectonics. For the majority of the plate pairs, we present the most recent estimation of their relative velocity using a dedicated processing. The velocity solutions are computed using HECTOR, a software that takes into account the existing temporal correlations between the daily solutions of the stations. It allows to properly estimate the velocity uncertainties and to detect any artifacts in the time-series. For some of the plate pairs, we compare our solutions of the angular velocities with other geodetic and geophysical models. In addition, we also study the sensitivity of the derived angular velocity to changes in the data (longer data-span for some stations) for tectonic units with few stations, and in particular for the Victoria and Rovuma blocks of the EARS. Finally, we compute estimates of velocity fields for several sub-regions correlated with the seismotectonic provinces and discuss the level of interplate and intraplate deformations in Africa.