Cenozoic extension in the Kenya Rift from low-temperature thermochronology: links to diachronous spatiotemporal evolution of rifting in East Africa

Torres Acosta, V., Bande, A., Sobel, E. R., Parra, M., Schildgen, T. F., Stuart, F. and Strecker, M. R. (2015) Cenozoic extension in the Kenya Rift from low-temperature thermochronology: links to diachronous spatiotemporal evolution of rifting in East Africa. Tectonics, 34(12), pp. 2367-2386. (doi:10.1002/2015TC003949)

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Abstract

The cooling history of rift shoulders and the subsidence history of rift basins are cornerstones for reconstructing the morphotectonic evolution of extensional geodynamic provinces, assessing their role in paleoenvironmental changes and evaluating the resource potential of their basin fills. Our apatite fission track and zircon (U-Th)/He data from the Samburu Hills and the Elgeyo Escarpment in the northern and central sectors of the Kenya Rift indicate a broadly consistent thermal evolution of both regions. Results of thermal modeling support a three-phased thermal history since the early Paleocene. The first phase (~65–50 Ma) was characterized by rapid cooling of the rift shoulders and may be coeval with faulting and sedimentation in the Anza Rift basin, now located in the subsurface of the Turkana depression and areas to the east in northern Kenya. In the second phase, very slow cooling or slight reheating occurred between ~45 and 15 Ma as a result of either stable surface conditions, very slow exhumation, or subsidence. The third phase comprised renewed rapid cooling starting at ~15 Ma. This final cooling represents the most recent stage of rifting, which followed widespread flood-phonolite emplacement and has shaped the present-day landscape through rift shoulder uplift, faulting, basin filling, protracted volcanism, and erosion. When compared with thermochronologic and geologic data from other sectors of the East African Rift System, extension appears to be diachronous, spatially disparate, and partly overlapping, likely driven by interactions between mantle-driven processes and crustal heterogeneities, rather than the previously suggested north–south migrating influence of a mantle plume.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Stuart, Professor Finlay
Authors: Torres Acosta, V., Bande, A., Sobel, E. R., Parra, M., Schildgen, T. F., Stuart, F., and Strecker, M. R.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Tectonics
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0278-7407
ISSN (Online):1944-9194
Published Online:01 December 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 American Geophysical Union
First Published:First published in Tectonics 34(12):2367-2386
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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