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Intracontinental deformation in southern Africa during the Late Cretaceous

Abstract : Intracontinental deformation accommodated along major lithospheric scale shear zone systems and within associated extensional basins has been well documented within West, Central and East Africa during the Late Cretaceous. The nature of this deformation has been established by studies of the tectonic architecture of sedimentary basins preserved in this part of Africa. In southern Africa, where the post break-up history has been dominated by major erosion, little evidence for post-break-up tectonics has been preserved in the onshore geology. Here we present the results of 38 new apatite fission track analyses from the Damara region of northern Namibia and integrate these new data with our previous results that were focused on specific regions or sections only to comprehensively document the thermo-tectonic history of this region since continental break-up in the Early Cretaceous. The apatite fission track ages range from 449 ± 20 Ma to 59 ± 3 Ma, with mean confined track lengths between 14.61 ± 0.1 μm (SD 0.95 μm) to 10.83 ± 0.33 μm (SD 2.84 μm). The youngest ages (c. 80–60 Ma) yield the longest mean track lengths, and combined with their spatial distribution, indicate major cooling during the latest Cretaceous. A simple numerical thermal model is used to demonstrate that this cooling is consistent with the combined effects of heating caused by magmatic underplating, related to the Paraná-Etendeka continental flood volcanism associated with rifting and the opening of the South Atlantic, and enhanced erosion caused by major reactivation of major lithospheric structures within southern Africa during a key period of plate kinematic change that occurred in the South Atlantic and SW Indian ocean basins between 87 and 56 Ma. This phase of intraplate tectonism in northern Namibia, focused in discrete structurally defined zones, is coeval with similar phases elsewhere in Africa and suggests some form of trans-continental linkage between these lithospheric zones.
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Roderic Brown, Michael A. Summerfield, Andrew Gleadow, Kerry Gallagher, Andrew Carter, et al.. Intracontinental deformation in southern Africa during the Late Cretaceous. Journal of African Earth Sciences, Elsevier, 2014, 100, pp.20-41. ⟨10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2014.05.014⟩. ⟨insu-01133706⟩

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