New estimates of seismic anisotropy from shear wave splitting measurements in eastern Africa reveal a pattern of seismic anisotropy dominated by a NE alignment of fast polarization directions with local changes around the thick Archean lithosphere of the Tanzania craton. The overall pattern is consistent with mantle flow from the African superplume but not with absolute plate motion, a plume head, or fossil anisotropy in the lithosphere. In combination with tomographic images of the African superplume, this finding suggests that plateau uplift, volcanism, and continental breakup along the Afro-Arabian rift system is strongly influenced by flow from the lower mantle and indicates a connection between lower mantle processes and the tectonic deformation of the Earth's surface. Key Points The African superplume can explain all of the fast polarization directions Results indicate a connection between the lower mantle and tectonic deformation.
- african superplume
- shear wave splitting