Collaborative Research: Acquisition of Equipment to Upgrade and Expand the AfricaArray Seismic Network

Project: Research project

Project Details




AfricaArray is a 3-year-old multi-faceted initiative to promote coupled educational and research programs for 1) building science capacity in the U.S. and Africa 2) addressing fundamental science questions in Africa of academic, economic and societal importance, and 3) enhancing diversity in the geosciences, both in the U.S. and Africa. At the core of AfricaArray is a network of 26 permanent seismic stations spanning 11 countries in eastern and southern Africa that has been built cooperatively by seismic network operators across Africa, with assistance from U.S. and European scientists, to form a shared research facility that serves African and U.S. scientists alike.

In this project, the AfricaArray seismic network will be upgraded and expanded to provide the definitive seismic data set for imaging the largest geophysical anomaly in Earth's mantle, the African superplume. Data from the upgraded and expanded seismic network will allow scientists to address several first-order, inter-related questions focused on the structure and dynamics of the African superplume.

1) What is the nature and origin of the African superplume?

2) What is the geodynamic relationship between the African superplume and mantle convection?

3) What are the dynamics of upper mantle convection under the east African rift system and plateau and how does it relate to the African superplume structure under southern Africa?

4) What is the structure of African cratonic lithosphere and how does it influence mantle dynamics beneath the African plate?

Determining the chemical and dynamic causes of the African superplume and defining its relation to shallower mantle structure and surface processes (uplift, rifting, volcanism) is arguably the most important issue in understanding the dynamics of the deep mantle. Seismic images will play a key role in gaining this understanding.


Effective start/end date1/1/0912/31/12


  • National Science Foundation: $134,498.00


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