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Geodetic constraints on cratonic microplates and broad strain during rifting of thick Southern African lithosphere

Wedmore, L. N. J., Biggs, J., Floyd, M., Fagereng, Å., Mdala, H., Chindandali, P., Williams, J. and Mphepo, F. 2021. Geodetic constraints on cratonic microplates and broad strain during rifting of thick Southern African lithosphere. Geophysical Research Letters 48 (17) , e2021GL093785. 10.1029/2021GL093785

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Abstract

Southern Africa is typically considered to belong to a single tectonic plate, Nubia, despite active faulting along the southwestern branch of the East African Rift System. We analyze regional Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) measurements, and find that the “San” microplate, situated south of the southwestern branch of the East African Rift, is statistically distinct from Nubia, with 0.4–0.7 mm/yr of extension across the boundary. Adding nine new campaign GNSS sites, we show that the extension rate across the southern Malawi Rift is 2.2 ± 0.3 mm/yr, with 75% of the relative velocity occurring over 890 km, despite the surface expression of faulting being <150 km wide. Thus, for the first time, we use geodetic measurements to describe the accommodation of strain in broad zones between Archean cratons in southern Africa's thick continental lithosphere.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1944-8007
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 June 2021
Date of Acceptance: 9 June 2021
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2021 02:20
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/142039

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