Fault and graben growth along active magmatic divergent plate boundaries in Iceland and Ethiopia
KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
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AbstractRecent studies highlight the importance of annual-scale dike-induced rifting episodes in developing normal faults and graben along the active axis of magmatic divergent plate boundaries (MDPB). However, the longer-term (102-105 years) role of diking on the cumulative surface deformation and evolution of MDPB is not yet well understood. To better understand the longer-term normal faults and graben along the axis of MDPB, we analyze fissure swarms in Iceland and Ethiopia. We first focus on the simplest case of immature fissure swarms, with single dike-fed eruptive fissures; these consist of a <1 km wide graben bordered by normal faults with displacement up to a few meters, consistent with theoretical models and geodetic data. A similar structural pattern is found, with asymmetric and multiple graben, within wider mature fissure swarms, formed by several dike-fed eruptive fissures. We then consider the lateral termination of normal faults along these graben, to detect their upward or downward propagation. Most faults terminate as open fractures on flat surface, suggesting downward fault propagation; this is consistent with recent experiments showing dike-induced normal faults propagating downward from the surface. However, some normal faults also terminate as open fractures on monoclines, which resemble fault propagation folds; this suggests upward propagation of reactivated buried faults, promoted by diking. These results suggest that fault growth and graben development, as well as the longer-term evolution of the axis of MDPB, may be explained only through dike emplacement and that any amagmatic faulting is not necessary.
CitationFault and graben growth along active magmatic divergent plate boundaries in Iceland and Ethiopia 2015:n/a Tectonics