Reading history from the Afar : carbonates and evaporites unveil the birth of a future Ocean

Anneleen Foubert - University of Fribourg

Initial rift basins are characterized by heterogeneous sedimentation patters varying at very short spatial and temporal scales. The interaction and feedback between tectonics, surface processes, volcanic events, climate variations and eustasy on sediment flux, sediment deposition and basin dynamics explain their complex stratigraphic architecture. Since the early days of the continental drift theory, the Afar triangle developed into an ideal field laboratory where the onset of continental and future oceanic rifting can be studied in detail. Although known as one of the most active rift regions on Earth and being a young incipient rift basin at the transition between continental rifting and oceanization, Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentary patterns in the Danakil Depression (N Afar, Ethiopia) has been only recently mapped in detail. This presentation discusses the unique sedimentary record in the Danakil Depression and how it contributes to the understanding of the intermittent opening and closure of an incipient rift basin driven by eustatic sea-level fluctuations, multi-episodic differential uplift and volcano-tectonic processes.