P and S wave tomographic models have been developed for the northern Malawi rift and adjacent Rungwe Volcanic Province (RVP) using data from the Study of Extension and maGmatism in Malawi aNd Tanzania project and data from previous networks in the study area. The main features of the models are a low-velocity zone (LVZ) with δVp = ~−1.5–2.0% and δVs = ~−2–3% centered beneath the RVP, a lower-amplitude LVZ (δVp = ~−1.0–1.3% and δVs = ~−0.7–1%) to the southeast of the RVP beneath the center and northeastern side of the northern Malawi rift, a shift of the lower-amplitude anomaly at ~−10° to −11° to the west beneath the central basin and to the western side of the rift, and a fast anomaly at all depths beneath the Bangweulu Craton. The LVZ widens further at depths >~150–200 km and extends to the north beneath northwestern Malawi, wrapping around the fast anomaly beneath the craton. We attribute the LVZ beneath the RVP and the northern Malawi rift to the flow of warm, superplume mantle from the southwest, upwelling beneath and around the Bangweulu Craton lithosphere, consistent with high 3He/4He values from the RVP. The LVZ under the RVP and northern Malawi rift strongly indicates that the rifted lithosphere has been thermally perturbed. Given that volcanism in the RVP began about 10 million years earlier than the rift faulting, thermal and/or magmatic weakening of the lithosphere may have begun prior to the onset of rifting.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology