Strain accommodation by slow slip and dyking in a youthful continental rift, East Africa

Eric Calais, Nicolas D'Oreye, Julie Albaric, Anne Deschamps, Damien Delvaux, Jacques Déverchère, Cynthia Ebinger, Richard W. Ferdinand, François Kervyn, Athanas S. Macheyeki, Anneleen Oyen, Julie Perrot, Elifuraha Saria, Benoît Smets, D. Sarah Stamps, Christelle Wauthier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Continental rifts begin and develop through repeated episodes of faulting and magmatism, but strain partitioning between faulting and magmatism during discrete rifting episodes remains poorly documented. In highly evolved rifts, tensile stresses from far-field plate motions accumulate over decades before being released during relatively short time intervals by faulting and magmatic intrusions. These rifting crises are rarely observed in thick lithosphere during the initial stages of rifting. Here we show that most of the strain during the July-August 2007 seismic crisis in the weakly extended Natron rift, Tanzania, was released aseismically. Deformation was achieved by slow slip on a normal fault that promoted subsequent dyke intrusion by stress unclamping. This event provides compelling evidence for strain accommodation by magma intrusion, in addition to slip along normal faults, during the initial stages of continental rifting and before significant crustal thinning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-788
Number of pages6
Issue number7223
StatePublished - Dec 11 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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