Imaging beneath the southernmost volcanoes in the East Africa Rift

by | 8.4.2013 at 3:24pm | 3 Comments
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The last time we visited the southern part of the East Africa Rift, we were responding to an unusual series of earthquakes in December 2009 that shook northern Malawi. The faults responsible for these events had not produced any earthquakes historically, and thus caught everyone by surprise. The unexpected occurrence of earthquakes on these faults highlights our poor overall understanding of how the African continent is slowly stretching and breaking apart.

This time, we return to this part of the rift system as a part of a more comprehensive effort to understand the underpinnings of this continental rift using a spectrum of geological and geophysical tools and involving a big international team of scientists from the U.S., Tanzania and Malawi. In the coming three weeks, we plan to deploy ~15 seismometers in southwest Tanzania around the Rungwe volcanic province, the southernmost volcanism in the East Africa Rift system. These stations will record small local earthquakes associated with active shifting of faults and moving of magmas at depth. They will also record distant earthquakes that can be used to create images of structures beneath Earth’s surface and map the faults and magmas.

Rungwe seismic deployment

Map showing elevation and lake depth, locations of volcanoes (red triangles, from Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program), major faults (black lines) with planned locations for seismometers. We plan to deploy 15 stations (light blue circles) in the next three weeks around the Rungwe volcanic province. Dark blue circles show tentative locations of stations to be deployed in the summer of 2014.

 

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3 Responses to “Imaging beneath the southernmost volcanoes in the East Africa Rift”

  1. [...] around the Rungwe volcanic province in the southern East Africa Rift installing seismometers, we have the chance to observe first hand how geological processes in action create the most [...]

  2. Einat says:

    Hi there Donna and Jim!
    What are the dark-blue circles in the figure?

  3. Donna Shillington says:

    Oops! They are the planned locations of seismometers we will deploy next summer (June 2014), which will expand our coverage to include the northern two rift segments of the Malawi (Nyasa) rift.

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