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A mantle magma reservoir beneath an incipient mid-ocean ridge in Afar, Ethiopia

Abstract : Shallow magma reservoirs exist in the crust beneath volcanoes and mid-ocean ridges, yet there are no reports of extensive magma bodies within the uppermost mantle. Indeed the buoyancy of magma should cause it to intrude into the crust, preventing it from ponding in the mantle below. The Dabbahu magmatic segment in Afar, Ethiopia, marks the late stages of continental rifting. This segment has been active since 2005 and has experienced repeated magma intrusions1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Here we use magnetotelluric data to image magma bodies beneath it. We identify a 30-km-wide region of very high electrical conductivity that reaches down to about 35 km depth. We interpret this region as a large volume of magma of at least 500 km3 that extends well into the mantle and contains about 13% melt fraction. The magma volume is orders of magnitude larger than that intruded during a typical rifting episode, implying that the magma reservoir persists for several tens of thousands of years. This is in marked contrast to the situation beneath mid-ocean ridges, where melt supply is thought to be episodic7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Large magma reservoirs within the mantle may therefore be responsible for the localization of strain that accompanies the final stages of continental break-up.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 13, 2013 - 2:04:30 PM
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M. Desissa, N. E. Johnson, K.A. Whaler, Sophie Hautot, Shimelles Fisseha, et al.. A mantle magma reservoir beneath an incipient mid-ocean ridge in Afar, Ethiopia. Nature Geoscience, Nature Publishing Group, 2013, 6 (10), pp.861-865. ⟨10.1038/ngeo1925⟩. ⟨insu-00861751⟩



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