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Composition of the crust beneath the Kenya rift

January 1, 1994

We infer the composition of the crust beneath and on the flanks of the Kenya rift based on a comparison of the KRISP-90 crustal velocity structure with laboratory measurements of compressional-wave velocities of rock samples from Kenya. The rock samples studied, which are representative of the major lithologies exposed in Kenya, include volcanic tuffs and flows (primarily basalts and phonolites), and felsic to intermediate composition gneisses. This comparison indicates that the upper crust (5-12 km depth) consists primarily of quartzo-feldspathic gneisses and schists similar to rocks exposed on the flanks of the rift, whereas the middle crust (12-22 km depth) consists of more mafic, hornblende-rich metamorphic rocks, probably intruded by mafic rocks beneath the rift axis. The lower crust on the flanks of the rift may consist of mafic granulite facies rocks. Along the rift axis, the lower crust varies in thickness from 9 km in the southern rift to only 2-3 km in the north, and has a seismic velocity substantially higher than the samples investigated in this study. The lower crust of the rift probably consists of a crust/mantle mix of high-grade metamorphic rocks, mafic intrusives, and an igneous mafic residuum accreted to the base of the crust during differentiation of a melt derived from the upper mantle.

Publication Year 1994
Title Composition of the crust beneath the Kenya rift
DOI 10.1016/0040-1951(94)90186-4
Authors Walter D. Mooney, N.I. Christensen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Tectonophysics
Index ID 70017645
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center