A gravity model for the lithosphere in western Kenya and northeastern Tanzania

Andrew A. Nyblade, Henry N. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We present a new gravity model for the lithosphère beneath the Kenya Rift Valley, the Mozambique Belt, and the Tanzania Craton in western Kenya and northeastern Tanzania. The Kenya Rift lies within the eastern branch of the extensive Cenozoic East African Rift System and has developed almost entirely in the Pan-African Mozambique Belt about 50 to 150 km east of the exposed margin of the Archean Tanzania Craton. The gravity field over western Kenya and northeastern Tanzania is characterized by a long-wavelength Bouguer anomaly. We propose that this anomaly has two components: 1. (1) a "rift" signature, deriving from a shallow rift basin, a lower crustal intrusion and a low-density zone in the mantle lithosphere localized beneath the rift axis 2. (2) a "suture" signature, arising from a crustal root along the boundary between the Mozambique Belt and Tanzania Craton and higher density crust in the mobile belt above part of the crustal root. Two lines of reasoning support our interpretation: 1. (1) Recent geological studies of the Mozambique Belt in Kenya and Tanzania suggest that it is a continent-continent collision zone, and continent-continent collision zones worldwide commonly exhibit a characteristic gravity anomaly. 2. (2) The long-wavelength Bouguer anomaly has at least two minima, one over the craton-mobile belt boundary, and one or more over the rift valley. Corroborative evidence for our interpretation of the gravity field is provided by recent seismic investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 15 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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