Rifting of the Guinea Margin in the Equatorial Atlantic from 112 to 84 MA: Implications of Paleo-Reconstructions for Structure and Sea-Surface Circulation
AdvisorJohnson, Roy A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Guinea Plateau is a shallow-marine, flat-lying bathymetric province situated along the equatorial West African margin, offshore Republic of Guinea. The Guinea Plateau and the conjugate Demerara Plateau hold particular geologic significance, as they represent the final point of separation between the African and South American continents during Gondwana break-up. Recent interpretation of both 2-D and 3-D seismic surveys along the Guinean margin have illuminated subsurface features related to Early Cretaceous crustal extension. Seismic structural investigations on these datasets suggest that the majority of extension is accommodated along large-scale listric normal faults located on a relatively narrow (<50 km) continental slope (up to ~39% extension). Minimal faulting reveals that little upper-crustal extension has occurred on the Guinea Plateau. Additionally, multiple 2-D seismic profiles image the transition from continental crust on the plateau and slope, to oceanic crust in the deeper marine basin. This continent-ocean boundary is the most representative boundary when testing the accuracy of plate reconstructions. Mapping of both the continent-ocean boundary and fracture zones across the equatorial Atlantic suggests that the Demerara Plateau and the South American plate are too far south in previous pre-rift reconstructions. A revised model introduces 20 km of Early Cretaceous NNW-oriented contraction across the Amazon Basin; an area of relative weakness where both geologic and geophysical data support such accommodation. Sea-surface flow models, which used this revised reconstruction and interpreted paleo-bathymetric data, predict upwelling throughout the newly formed equatorial seaway, and later along the West African margin during periods of regional organic-rich black shale deposition. With reduced decomposition of organic matter strongly correlated to upwelling, being able to predict these zones is of particular significance to petroleum companies, who have recently started exploring both the equatorial South American and West African coastlines.
Degree ProgramGraduate College