EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

An integrated resistivity-density model of Southern Africa

Max Moorkamp
Max Moorkamp
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet, Muenchen

The tectonic history of southern Africa includes Archean craton formation, multiple episodes of subduction and rifting and some of the world's most significant magmatic events. Lithospheric models based on seismological and magnetotelluric data show highly heterogeneous crustal structure, significant anomalies in the lithospheric mantle and strong variations of the depth to the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary. While some of the spatial patterns agree between different geophysical methods, there are also significant differences in the geometry and location of many structures. I perform a joint inversion of magnetotelluric and satellite gravity data to reconcile these apparent discrepancies. Resistivity and density are coupled through a newly developed Variation of Information constraint which strives to establish a one-to-one relationship between the two quantities. This allows the resistivity-density relationship to evolve data driven during the inversion. The final combined resistivity-density model shows detailed lithospheric and sub-lithospheric structure below the Kaapvaal Craton and adjacent mobile belts. In addition, the retrieved parameter relationship exhibits several branches indicating strong variations in composition. Compared to results from a similar inversion in the western United States, the inversion indicates significantly less fluid related low resistivity anomalies and a dominance of high-density low-resistivity structures. This corroborates earlier ideas that fluids are difficult to contain within in the Earth over long time scales. I will discuss the implications for the tectonic evolution of the region and for the interpretation of low resistivity anomalies world-wide.

How to cite: Moorkamp, M.: An integrated resistivity-density model of Southern Africa, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-6068,, 2023.