The initial Gondwana break-up: A synthesis based on new potential field data of the Africa-Antarctica Corridor

christian.olaf.mueller [ at ]


The initial opening of the Africa-Antarctica Corridor, in the heart of Gondwana, is still enigmatic due to missing information on the origin of major crustal features and the exact timing of the onset of the first oceanic crust in the Jurassic. Therefore, in 2014, new ship-borne magnetic data were systematically acquired in the northern Mozambique Basin and across Beira High, which we merged with all accessible magnetic data in the Mozambique Basin. Herein, distinct magnetic lineations are observed, which allow a refined identification of a whole set of Jurassic magnetic spreading anomalies, constraining the timing of the onset of oceanization, beginning at M38n.2n (164.1 Ma). In combination with high-resolution potential field data from the conjugate Antarctic margin, well-expressed fracture zones can be traced throughout the Africa-Antarctica Corridor and allow the precise rotation of Antarctica back to Africa. The initial fit depicts striking continuations of onshore tectonic features across the plate boundaries taking onshore aeromagnetic data of both margins into account. Within a tight Gondwana fit, the Beira High can be restored along the major sinistral Namama-Orvin Shear Zone of the East African-Antarctic Orogen. The Beira High represents a continental block, which was detached from Antarctica, by 157 Ma at the latest. Simultaneously, the Antarctic plate cleared the area of the MCP. However, the crustal nature of the southern MCP remains ambiguous. The Northern Natal Valley and the Mozambique Ridge consist of thick oceanic crust, being emplaced between M26r-M18n (157.1–144 Ma) and M18n-M6n (144–131.7 Ma), respectively. About the half of this crust was won from the Antarctic plate by a series of southwards directed ridge jumps to the northern boundary of the Explora Wedge. A refined kinematic break-up model constrained by the most extensive magnetic dataset is presented describing consistently the initial opening of the Africa-Antarctica Corridor and the Somali Basin.

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DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2018.11.008

Cite as
Mueller, C. O. and Jokat, W. (2019): The initial Gondwana break-up: A synthesis based on new potential field data of the Africa-Antarctica Corridor , Tectonophysics, 750 , pp. 301-328 . doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2018.11.008

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