Magmatic Plumbing at an Incipient Oceanic Spreading Centre: Evidence From Local Earthquake Data in Northern Afar
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The transition from continental breakup to seafloor spreading is characterised by voluminous intrusive and extrusive magmatic activity, focused along narrow rift segments. The manner in which this magma is stored and transported within the crust is poorly constrained. It is difficult to answer these questions by studying previously rifted continental margins, as the area of transition is buried deep beneath volcanic and sedimentary sequences. Northern Afar presents a unique opportunity to resolve this problem, as it exposes subaerially the magma-rich transition from continental rifting to an oceanic spreading centre. The region therefore acts as a laboratory in which the geological signatures of continental breakup can be investigated unambiguously. For two years, between 2011 and 2013, a seismic network of 20 seismic stations was deployed in the area. Presented here are the hypocentral locations and local magnitudes of over 4500 earthquakes. Seismicity is focused along the western border fault and at active volcanic centres. Magma pathways beneath active volcanoes are clearly defined by seismicity spanning the entire crust. The data allows for the development of a calibrated local magnitude scale for northern Afar and provides an insight into the nature of seismic attenuation in the uppermost mantle. I discuss the implications that these results have on our understanding of the distribution of extension, melt storage and migration and upper mantle processes during the last stages of continental rifting.