Detection of rifting due to dyke emplacement

The Afar Depression of NE Africa is a zone of complex continental rifting and nascent formation of new ocean floor that has been developing since the Late Oligocene, where the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Ethiopian rifts meet. Averaged out, the extension is at around 16 mm per year. In September and October 2005 small seismic events spread along about 60 km of a discrete segment of the Afar rifting system. Analysis of the vicinity of these earthquakes, using satellite-radar interferometry revealed an astonishing 8 m of extension in little more than a week (Wright, T.J. et al. 2006. Magma-maintained rift segmentation at continental rupture in the 2005 Afar dyking episode. Nature, v. 442, p. 291-294). This could not be accounted for by extensional faulting alone, indeed that would only add up to less than 10% of the motion. It seems likely that sideways injection of around 2.5 km3 of magma was responsible, forming a dyke extending from 2 to 9 km deep. Surface volcanism was barely noticeable, the event being represented by a small puff of felsic ash from a minor volcano while the dyke itself is twice the volume of the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens

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