Large geodetic time series constraining the spatial distribution and the time evolution of the velocity field at the western tip of the Aden Ridge in Afar

Monday, 15 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Cecile Doubre1, Aline Deprez1, Frederic Masson2, Anne Socquet3, Patrice Ulrich1, Saad Ibrahim Ahmed4, Jean-Bernard de Chabalier5, Abayazid Ahmadine Omar4, Christophe Vigny6 and Jean-Claude Ruegg5, (1)EOST École et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre, Strasbourg, France, (2)Univ Strasbourg, Strasbourg Cedex, France, (3)ISTerre Institute of Earth Sciences, Saint Martin d'Hères, France, (4)Geophysical Observatory of Arta, Arta, Djibouti, (5)Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Paris, France, (6)ENS/CNRS, Paris, France
We present the results of the last GPS campaign conducted over the Djiboutian part of Eastern Afar. A large and dense geodetic network has been measured regularly since the 90’s, and allows an accurate determination of the velocity field associated with the western tip of the Arabia-Somalia divergent plate boundary. Within the Tadjoura Gulf, the Aden ridge consists of a series of 3 en échelon, submerged spreading segments, except for the Asal segment, which is partly above water. The repetition of 6 to 7 measurements together with 6 permanent continuous GNSS stations allow an opportunity to study the spatial distribution of the active extension in relation to these 3 segments, but also to study time variations of the displacements, which are greatly expected to be transitory because of the occurrence of dyking events, small to intermediate seismic events, and volcanic activity. The divergent motion of the two margins of the Gulf occurs at ~15 mm/yr, which is consistent with the long-term estimates of the Arabia-Somalia motion. Across the Asal segment, this value confirms that the effect of the dyking event in 1978 has ended. The velocity gradients show that the deformation is distributed from the southern to the northern rift shoulder. As revealed by the InSAR data however, the along-axis variations of the deformation pattern, i.e. clear superficial active faults in the SE part of the rift and deep opening in the NW part, suggests the remaining influence of the previous dyke intrusions within the segment inner floor. The time series show that the velocity field was more heterogeneous before 2003, when the micro-seismic activity was significant, particularly around the volcanic center. The striking feature of the time evolution of the velocity field consists in the transition from an extension mainly localized across the Asal segment before 2003 to an extension more distributed, implying the influence of the southern Quaternary structures forming the Gaggade and Hanle Basins. This results in a decrease of the opening velocity across the Asal segment. This crucial change suggests that the activity of the volcanic/geothermal centre in the segment is a determining factor in the spatial organization of the deformation, by affecting the activity of the normal faults and thereby favoring the concentration of the extensive deformation.