Active transsection faults in rift transfer zones: evidence for complex stress fields and implications for crustal fragmentation processes in the western branch of the East African Rift

TitleActive transsection faults in rift transfer zones: evidence for complex stress fields and implications for crustal fragmentation processes in the western branch of the East African Rift
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsKoehn D, Lindenfeld M, Rümpker G, Aanyu K, Haines SH, Passchier CW
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Volume99
Issue7
Pagination1633–1642
Date Published08/2010
Abstract

New structural and seismologic evidence from the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda, indicate that continental rifts can capture and rotate fragments of the lithosphere while rift segments interact, in a manner analogous to the interaction of small-scale fractures. The Rwenzori Mountains are a basement block within the western branch of the East African Rift System that is located at the intersection of two rift segments and is apparently rotating clockwise. Structural data and new seismological data from earthquake epicentres indicate a large-scale, 20-km-long transsection fault is currently detaching the Rwenzori micro-plate on its northern margin from the larger Victoria plate (Tanzania craton), whereas it is already fully detached in the south. We propose that this fault develops due to the rotation of the Rwenzori block. In a numerical model we show how rift segment interaction, block rotation and the development of transsection faults (faults that cut through the Rwenzori Mountains) evolve through time. The model suggests that uplift of the Rwenzori block can only take place after the rift has opened significantly, and rotation leads to the development of transsection faults that connect two rift segments, so that the block is captured within the rifts. Our numerical model suggests that the majority of the uplift has taken place within the last 8 Ma.

DOI10.1007/s00531-010-0525-2