Shear Velocity Structure of the Crust and Upper Mantle Beneath the Malawi Rift from Teleseismic and Ambient Noise Surface Waves 

My current focus centers on imaging crust and mantle Earth structure beneath the Malawi Rift.  Sitting within the broader East African Rift System, the Malawi rift is a location where the continent is presently tearing itself apart ... why you ask? Good question! The how and why continents rupture are two questions that I hope to shed some light on with my present research.

Overview map of the region surrounding the Malawi Rift.  Background color shows elevation from Etopo1.  Locations of geologic or geocraphic interest are labeled.  Red triangles indicate Quaternary - recent volcanos.  

Overview map of the region surrounding the Malawi Rift.  Background color shows elevation from Etopo1.  Locations of geologic or geocraphic interest are labeled.  Red triangles indicate Quaternary - recent volcanos.  

To understand how the African continent is ripping apart along the Malawi-Tanzania border I use seismic techniques to create images of Earth structure beneath the regions.  These images, termed tomographic images, reveal the seismic velocity structure of the crust and uppermost mantle. In regions of present-day rifting we expect that the crust has thinned due to tectonic stretching and this thinning should allow the upwelling of hotter (i.e. seismically slower material).  By imaging the presence or absence of these slower velocities I aim to reveal the present-day controls on continental extension and rupture.