Mantle transition zone structure beneath Tanzania, East Africa

Thomas J. Owens, Andrew A. Nyblade, Harold Gurrola, Charles A. Langston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


We apply a three-dimensional stacking method to receiver functions from the Tanzania Broadband Seismic Experiment to determine relative variations in the thickness of the mantle transition zone beneath Tanzania. The transition zone under the Eastern rift is 30-40 km thinner than under areas of the Tanzania Craton in the interior of the East African Plateau unaffected by rift faulting. The region of transition zone thinning under the Eastern rift is several hundred kilometers wide and coincides with a 2-3% reduction in S wave velocities. The thinning of the transition zone, as well as the reduction in S wave velocities, can be attributed to a 200-300°K increase in temperature. This thermal anomaly at >400 km depth beneath the Eastern rift cannot be easily explained by passive rifting and but is consistent with a plume origin for the Cenozoic rifting, volcanism and plateau uplift in East Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-830
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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