Tectonics, Magmatism, and GeoResources of the East African Rift: Perspectives on past and future research

Tim Craig
Start Date
End Date

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The last 50 years have seen a series of large UK-led geophysical deployments to the East African Rift (e.g., KRISP, EAGLE, the Afar Rift Consortium, RiftVolc, PREPARE and TRAILS). These deployments have produced outstanding scientific outcomes and produced a generation of UK geophysicists who stood at the forefront of advances in our understanding of the volcano-tectonics of the East African Rift and the techniques of geophysical imaging. 

This discussion meeting will bring together leading geophysicists from the UK and international partners to consolidate recent advances in our knowledge of the tectonics and processes associated with the rifting of East Africa from crust to mantle. Building on past successes, this meeting will aim to identify and develop blue-skies and applied research targets for the next decade, seeking to revolutionise our understanding of the tectonics and geodynamics of continental rifting, and how this translates to both seismic and volcanic hazard and resource potential.

The East African Rift offers a range of exciting research avenues, centred around some of the best exposures of continental rifting and rift-related volcanism anywhere on Earth.  Many of the previous deployments focused on the understanding large-scale tectonic and magmatic processes associated with East African rifting, and the underlying geological structure of East Africa.. In this meeting, we will instead focus on how we might build on past successes to address the geophysical hazards (seismic and volcanic) and georesources of the East African Rift and their relationship with the geodynamics and tectonics of the region.

With a rapidly expanding population approaching half a billion people, increasing urbanisation, and the accompanying expansion of regional infrastructure, the East African community faces increasing exposure to the impacts of geophysical hazards, both seismic and volcanic.  At the same time, the basins of the East African Rift, along with the older geological structure of the region, offer an economic opportunity for the region to help meet increasing demand for scarce resources associated with the development and expansion of regional economies, alongside the global transition towards Net Zero.  Resource potential spans a range of fields, from geothermal energy, to water resources, to mineral deposits – all of which are controlled by the tectono-magmatic architecture of the region.



  1. Active tectonics and seismic hazard of the East African Rift
  2. Magmatism and volcanic hazard of the East African Rift
  3. Understanding the geodynamics of the East African Rift
  4. Geo-resources in the East African Rift for the 21st Century.

For those interested in presenting a talk or poster: please submit an abstract via this form by 5pm on Thursday 28th March with your title, author list, an abstract (300 words max) and your preferred presentation format).  We will let presenters know by Wednesday 3rd April which format they have been allotted, and aim circulate the programme shortly thereafter to registered attendees

10am – 10.30: Arrival and coffee
10.30 – 10.45: Welcome and Opening Remarks (Tim Craig, Ian Bastow and Juliet Biggs)
10.45 – 11.00: Channelised mantle flow through the Afar Triple Junction and around the
Arabian plate: evidence from seismic anisotropy (Miriam Gauntlett)
11.00 – 11.15: Rifting in northern Afar and the ADD-ON ICDP drilling project (Derek Keir) -
11.15 – 11.30: The Turkana Rift Arrays Investigating Lithospheric Structure Experiment (Ian
11.30 – 11.45: Variable Magmatic Modification of the East African Lithosphere: Insights from
the Turkana Depression (Rita Kounoudis)
11.45 – 12.00: Deep earthquakes, long faults, and strong lithosphere in East Africa (Tim
12.00 – 12.15: Ground motion models for the southern East African Rift System (Joanna
Holmgren) - ONLINE
12.15 – 12.30: Some remaining questions regarding the tectonic development of the
Northern Kenya Rift (Chris Morley)
12.30 – 12.45: Crustal structure of the Ethiopian Northwestern Plateau and central Afar from
receiver function analysis (Birhanu Abera Kibret)
12.45 – 13.30: Lunch (please note, lunch is not provided)
13.30 – 13.45: Rift Volcanism: Integrating Geological And Geophysical Constraints On
Restless Volcanic Systems. (Juliet Biggs)
13.45 – 14.00: Reduced magmatism in the Turkana Depression: a consequence of
inefficient melt transport (Adina Pusok)
14.00 – 14.15: Rates of volcanism and volatile discharge in the southern Kenyan rift
(VolKenya) (Karen Fontjin)
14.15 – 14.30: Eruption frequency and magnitude in a geothermally active continental rift:
the Bora-Baricha-Tullu Moye volcanic complex, Main Ethiopian Rift (Amdemichael Zafu
14.30 – 14.45: The 2015 earthquake swarm in the Fentale volcanic complex (FVC): A
geohazard risk for Ethiopia’s commercial route to the Djibouti port (Atalay Ayele)
14.45 – 15.00: Volcanic hazard and risk in Ethiopia: characterising past activity and future
hazard to support decision-making and volcanic risk reduction strategies (Ben Clarke)
15.00 – 15.30: Discussion on potential targets for future UK-led projects in East Africa
15.30 – 16.00: Coffee for anyone additionally attending the Ordinary RAS Meeting.

Meeting Organisers:

Tim Craig – University of Leeds

Ian Bastow – Imperial College

Juliet Biggs –University of Bristol



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Venue Address

The Royal Astronomical Society,Burlington House


51.5085763, -0.13960799999995