University of Cambridge > > Sedgwick Club talks > Volcanoes where the Earth rips apart: basaltic processes in the Ethiopian Rift

Volcanoes where the Earth rips apart: basaltic processes in the Ethiopian Rift

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‘Continental rifting is the means by which strong continents are faulted, weakened, and ruptured to form new ocean basins. This process is accompanied by significant seismicity and often the intrusion of mantle-derived magmas into the crust. Understanding the relationship between magmatism and extension in rifts is important if we want to develop new models of tectonic evolution that account for the effects of magma intrusion during the rifting process.

‘During my PhD I have investigated the magmatic character of basaltic magmatism in the late-stage Main Ethiopian Rift (MER), the northernmost sector of the East African Rift System, by looking at olivine crystals. A mineral that crystallises early in mantle-derived basalts, olivines and the inclusions trapped within them can help us understand the nature and character of basaltic processes.

‘In my talk I present an overview of the fieldwork I performed in Ethiopia and provide a summary of the key findings of my study. I use a toolbox of petrological and geochemical methods to demonstrate how hot Ethiopian melts can be generated by the deep melting of a correspondingly hot mantle. During a period of active intrusion these melts are focussed into sills within the Ethiopian mid-crust and are erupted within a year. My PhD research therefore provides petrological ground-truthing for geophysical observations, which much be considered in future models of continental rifting.’

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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