SO230 - MOCOM project - The crustal structure of Beira High, Central Mozambique - Combined investigation of wide-angle seismic and potential field data

christian.olaf.mueller [ at ]


Main objective of the project is the investigation of the crustal structure of the margin of Mozambique. This will improve our understanding of the driving forces and processes leading to the initial Gondwana break-up. Some 185 Ma the onset of rifting caused of the opening of the Mozambique and Somali Basin and the dispersal of this vast continent into several minor plates. The timing and geometry of the initial break-up between Africa and Antarctica as well as the amount of volcanism connected to this Jurassic rifting are still controversial. However, the conjugated margin in the Riiser-Larsen Sea is covered by an up to 400 m thick ice cap, precluding the set-up of a deep seismic experiment in this area. Consequently, the investigations focus on the continental margin of central Mozambique. Here, a prominent basement high, the Beira High, forms a critical geological feature of uncertain crustal fabric. It is still controversial if this area of shallow basement is a continental fragment or was formed during a period of enhanced magmatism and is of oceanic origin. Therefore, a wide-angle seismic profile with 37 OBS/H was acquired starting from the deep Mozambique Channel, across the Beira High and terminating on the shelf off the Zambezi River (Fig. 1). The main objectives are to provide constraints on the crustal composition and origin of the Beira High as well as the amount of volcanism and the position of the continent-ocean transition along the margin of central Mozambique. To obtain a P-wave velocity model of this area the data were forward modelled by means of the 2D-Raytracing method, supported by an amplitude and gravity modelling. 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 (Fig. 2). 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 felsic material 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 11 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 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. The acquired shipborne magnetic data complement our dataset in the Mozambique Basin and reveal clear evidence for the presence of lava flows and intrusions, pointing to an increased break-up related magmatism.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Event Details
Statusseminar Meeresforschung mit FS SONNE, 14 Feb 2017 - 15 Feb 2017, Oldenburg.
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Cite as
Mueller, C. O. , Jokat, W. , Schreckenberger, B. and Heyde, I. (2017): SO230 - MOCOM project - The crustal structure of Beira High, Central Mozambique - Combined investigation of wide-angle seismic and potential field data , Statusseminar Meeresforschung mit FS SONNE, Oldenburg, 14 February 2017 - 15 February 2017 .


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