Structure and tectonic setting of the Chingale Igneous Ring Complex, Malawi from aeromagnetic and satellite gravity data: Implication for Precambrian terranes collision and Neogene - Quaternary rifting
This work examines the structure and tectonic setting of the possibly late Neoproterozoic - early Cambrian Pan-African (henceforth Pan-African) Chingale Igneous Ring Complex (CIRC) in southern Malawi to document its internal emplacement structure and solicit implications for Precambrian terranes collision and Neogene – Quaternary rifting. The CIRC is located along the boundary between the Mesoproterozoic – Neoproterozoic Southern Irumide orogenic belt in the northwest (dominantly amphibolite facies metamorphic terrane) and the Unango complex to the southeast (dominantly granulite facies metamorphic terrane). Portion of the Southern Irumide orogenic belt has been recently recognized as the Niassa craton. The CIRC is also dissected by the southeastern border fault of the Malawi rift, which represents a segment of the Neogene – Quaternary Western Branch of the East African Rift System. This work uses reduced to the pole (RTP) aeromagnetic data enhanced through tilt derivative and three-dimensional (3D) magnetic susceptibility modeling to reveal that the CIRC comprises three overlapping 7 km–12 km wide circular to elliptical ring structures that are aligned in a NE-SW direction along the boundary between the Southern Irumide orogenic belt and the Unango complex. This work also uses Bouguer gravity anomalies of the World Gravity model 2012 (WGM 2012) subjected to upward continuation of 2 km and 12 km to show that the CIRC is located along a relatively steep gravity anomaly gradient coinciding with the boundary between the Southern Irumide orogenic belt and the Unango complex. Together with structural, lithological, metamorphic, and lithospheric structure observations, this work proposes that the CIRC mark the location of a Pan-African suture zone resulting from the collision of the Southern Irumide orogenic belt (Niassa craton) and the Unango complex and this is named here the Chingale suture zone. The presence of this Pan-African suture zone facilitated localization of extensional strain during the onset of the Malawi rift allowing it to change its orientation from NNW-trending in its northern part to NE-trending in its southern part. Igneous ring complexes are hypabyssal intrusions. Hence, the exposure of the CIRC within the southern Malawi rift suggests the lack of rift-related subsidence. This makes much of the ~300 m–~500 m high relief of the topographic escarpment of the southeastern border fault of the rift the result of rift flank uplift.
Geography, Geology, and Planning
Aeromagnetic analysis, Chingale Igneous Ring Complex, Gravity analysis, Neogene – Quaternary rifting, Precambrian terranes collision
Nyalugwe, Victor N.; Abdelsalam, Mohamed G.; Katumwehe, Andrew; Mickus, Kevin L.; and Atekwana, Estella A., "Structure and tectonic setting of the Chingale Igneous Ring Complex, Malawi from aeromagnetic and satellite gravity data: Implication for Precambrian terranes collision and Neogene - Quaternary rifting" (2020). Articles by College of Natural and Applied Sciences Faculty. 1631.
Journal of African Earth Sciences