The crustal structure of Beira High, central Mozambique—Combined investigation of wide-angle seismic and potential field data

christian.olaf.mueller [ at ]


The timing and geometry of the initial Gondwana break-up between Africa and East Antarctica is still poorly known due to missing information about the continent-ocean boundaries along the rifted margins. In this context, the Beira High off central Mozambique forms a critical geological feature of uncertain crustal fabric. Based on new wide-angle seismic and potential field data across Beira High a P-wave velocity model, supported by amplitude and gravity modelling, provides constraints on the crustal composition of this area. In the Mozambique Basin mainly normal oceanic crust of 5.5–7 km thickness with velocities of 6.5–7.0 km/s in the lower crust is present. A sharp transition towards Beira High marks the continent-ocean boundary. Here the crust thickens to 23 km at maximum. A small velocity-depth gradient and a constant increase in velocity with basal velocities of maximum 7.0 km/s are in good agreement with typical velocities of continental crust and continental fragments. The density model indicates the existence of felsicmaterial in greater depths and supports a fabric of stretched, but highly intruded continental crust below Beira High. A gradual decrease in crustal thickness characterizes the transition towards the Mozambican shelf area. Here, in the Zambezi Delta Depression 12 km of sediments cover the underlying 7 km thick crust. The presence of a high-velocity lower crustal body with velocities of 7.1–7.4 km/s indicates underplated, magmatic material in this part of the profile. However, the velocity structure in the shelf area allows no definite interpretation because of the experimental setup. Thus, the crustal nature below the Zambezi Delta and consequently the landward position of the continentocean boundary remains unknown. The difference in stretching below the margins of Beira High suggests the presence of different thinning directions and a rift jump during the early rifting stage.

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DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.06.028

Cite as
Mueller, C. O. , Jokat, W. and Schreckenberger, B. (2016): The crustal structure of Beira High, central Mozambique—Combined investigation of wide-angle seismic and potential field data , Tectonophysics, 683 , pp. 233-254 . doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.06.028

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