Transition from Plume-driven to Plate-driven Magmatism in the Evolution of the Main Ethiopian Rift

Dejene Hailemariam Feyissa, Hiroshi Kitagawa, Tesfaye Demissie Bizuneh, Ryoji Tanaka, Kurkura Kabeto, Eizo Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


New K-Ar ages, major and trace element concentrations, and Sr-Nd-Pb isotope data are presented for Oligocene to recent mafic volcanic rocks from the Ethiopian Plateau, the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER), and the Afar depression. Chronological and geochemical data from this study are combined with previously published datasets to reveal secular variations in magmatism throughout the entire Ethiopian volcanic region. The mafic lavas in these regions show variability in terms of silica-saturation (i.e. alkaline and sub-alkaline series) and extent of differentiation (mafic through intermediate to felsic). The P-T conditions of melting, estimated using the least differentiated basalts, reveal a secular decrease in the mantle potential temperature, from when the flood basalt magmas erupted (up to 1600 °C) to the time of the rift-related magmatism (<1500°C). Variations in the Sr-Nd-Pb isotopic compositions of the mafic lavas can account for the involvement of multiple end-member components. The relative contributions of these end-member components vary in space and time owing to changes in the thermal condition of the asthenosphere and the thickness of the lithosphere. The evolution of the Ethiopian rift is caused by a transition from plume-driven to plate-driven mantle upwelling, although the present-day mantle beneath the MER and the Afar depression is still warmer than normal asthenosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1681-1715
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Afar depression
  • Ethiopian Plateau
  • Ethiopian rift
  • mantle melting
  • mantle source

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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