Seismic anisotropy in eastern Africa, mantle flow, and the African superplume

Brian Bagley, Andrew A. Nyblade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1500-1505
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 28 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • african superplume
  • anisotropy
  • shear wave splitting


Dive into the research topics of 'Seismic anisotropy in eastern Africa, mantle flow, and the African superplume'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this