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Temporal clustering of fissural eruption across multiple segments within the Ethiopian Rift

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Siegburg, M 
Gernon, TM 
Keir, D 
Bull, JM 
Taylor, RN 


jats:pMagmatic continental rifts show evidence that discrete rift segments experience episodic intrusive and eruptive events, more commonly termed rifting episodes. However, whether multiple rifting episodes across adjacent rift segments are clustered in time is not well understood. To address this issue, we conduct new radiocarbon dating that constrains the timing of the most recent rifting episode at the Boset magmatic segment of the northern Ethiopian rift, and combine this with historical dating of similar rifting events in the adjacent magmatic segments. New radiocarbon dates of multiple charcoal samples from the base of the most recent fissural lava at the Boset Volcanic Complex indicate that it likely occurred between 1812 and 1919 CE. These dates are similar to those from historical accounts of fissural eruption from the neighbouring Kone (∼1810 CE), and Fantale (∼1770 to 1808 CE) magmatic segments. We conduct new analysis of major and trace element compositions from these historical fissural lavas, as well as from a fresh-looking lava flow from Beru cone near to Kone volcano. The results of the geochemistry from these flows of all three magmatic segments show compositions that vary in the basalt and trachybasalt fields, with sufficient variation to rule out them having erupted from a single dike intrusion episode. This, combined with the scatter in dates from the radiocarbon analysis and historical accounts, along with the location of each eruption in a discrete and spatially offset magmatic segment, favours an interpretation of each magmatic segment experiencing separate rifting episodes but with these being clustered in time. Mechanisms to explain the clustering of rifting episodes are more speculative but could include stress transfer from dike intrusion and deep crustal hydraulic connection in the plumbing system of multiple segments.</jats:p>


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: We thank the RiftVolc community for thoughtful interactions over many meetings. We thank staff of the Institute of Geophysics, Space Science and Astronomy and Department of Earth Science at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia for support during fieldwork. Radiocarbon dating was performed by the Beta Analytic Laboratory (Florida, US). We acknowledge skillful analytical assistance from Andy Milton, Matthew Cooper and Agnes Michalik (University of Southampton) and Tom Knott (University of Leicester). We would like to thank the reviewers Francesco Mazzarini and Gabriel Ureta and the editor Karoly Nemeth for their constructive comments that improve the manuscript.


37 Earth Sciences, 3703 Geochemistry, 3705 Geology, 3706 Geophysics

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Frontiers in Earth Science

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Frontiers Media SA