Lithosphere Structure in Southern Africa: Mantle Density, Dynamic Topography, Moho Sharpness, and Kimberlite Magmatism

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 09:20
304 (Moscone South)
Irina M Artemieva, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark and Lev P Vinnik, Inst Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia
In southern Africa, both the Archean and Proterozoic blocks have the topography 500-700 m higher than in any other craton worldwide, except for the Tanzanian craton. An unusually high topography may be caused by a low density of the cratonic lithospheric mantle and/or by the dynamic support of the mantle with origin below the depth of isostatic compensation (assumed to be at the lithosphere base). We use free-board constraints to examine the relative contributions of the both factors to surface topography in the cratons of southern Africa and present regional model of density structure of the lithospheric mantle. The results indicate that 0.5-1.0 km of topography requires the dynamic contribution from the sublithospheric mantle because it cannot be explained by the lithosphere structure within the petrologically permitted range of mantle densities.

The calculated lithospheric mantle density values are in an overall agreement with xenolith-based data and show an overall trend in mantle density increase from Archean to younger lithospheric terranes. Notable exceptions are the Limpopo belt and the Bushveld Intrusion Complex, which have an increased mantle density, probably as a result of melt-metasomatism. The Western Cape Fold Belt has a moderately depleted mantle with density within the range expected for Phanerozoic mantle, while mantle densities beneath the Eastern Cape Fold Belt require the presence of a significant amount of eclogite in the mantle.

Mantle density structure correlates with distribution of kimberlites and with seismic velocity contrast across the Moho: kimberlite-rich regions have sharp Moho and low-density (3.32-3.33 g/cc) mantle, while kimberlite-poor regions have transient Moho and denser mantle (3.34-3.35 g/cc). We explain this pattern by melt-metasomatism which affects both mantle depletion and the Moho sharpness. We also find that regions with high mantle density host non-diamondiferous kimberlites, while diamondiferous kimberlites are chiefly restricted to regions with low-dense mantle. From comparison of density anomalies in the lithospheric mantle with seismic Vp, Vs velocities at 100-150 km depth we conclude that density-velocity relationship in mantle peridotite is strongly non-unique and cannot be parameterized by one parameter such as Mg#.