EGU23-11421, updated on 20 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Surface processes and rift evolution in the Ethiopian Rift, East Africa

Ameha Muluneh1,2, Sascha Brune1,3, Giacomo Corti4, and Derek Keir5,6
Ameha Muluneh et al.
  • 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University
  • 3Institute of Geosciences, University of Potsdam, Germany
  • 4CNR National Research Council of Italy, Florence, Italy
  • 5University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  • 6University of Florence, Florence, Italy

The Main Ethiopian Rift (MER) is characterized by a significant along-strike variation in rift evolution and strain accommodation mechanisms. The northern MER is at a transitional stage, whereas the central MER is at an intermediate stage of rifting. Previous geophysical and geological observations suggest that rift obliquity, age of onset of rifting and/or presence/absence of magma could be responsible for the observed difference in deformation style. Here, we use the geodynamic modelling software ASPECT that has recently been coupled with the landscape evolution model FastScape to understand the role that surface processes (such as erosion and sedimentation) play in controlling the style of deformation at the central and northern sectors of the MER. Our results show that the deformation in the central MER can be well explained by efficient surface processes. However, our models fail to fully capture the deformation in the northern MER implying that magma plays a significant role in this sector of the rift. We show that the MER is a unique plate boundary where surface and magmatic processes control the style of deformation at different sectors within the same tectonic setting. 

How to cite: Muluneh, A., Brune, S., Corti, G., and Keir, D.: Surface processes and rift evolution in the Ethiopian Rift, East Africa, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-11421,, 2023.