Evolution of the northern tip of Afar triangle: Inferences from the Quaternary succession of the Dandiero — Massawa area (Eritrea)

Federico Sani, Massimiliano Ghinassi, Mauro Papini, Oriol Oms, Alvise Finotello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The Afar region is a triangular area located at the triple junction between the African, Somalia, and Arabian plates, which are currently diverging at different rates. Currently, the extension vector is roughly oriented in a NE-SW direction in the Afar, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, in respect to Arabia plate, whereas the Nubian–Somalian divergence, evidenced by the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER), is approximately WNW-ESE (N95-100°E). This study focuses on the tectono-sedimentary evolution of a sector from Massawa to the north up to the continental Early-Middle Pleistocene Dandiero Basin to the south. This basin is filled with approximately 500 m thick fluvial-lacustrine deposits and includes six formations. Sedimentation occurred mainly along the basin axis and allowed accumulation of sand and mud deposits with subordinate gravels close to the basin margin. The age of the basin infill succession is well constrained through integration between paleomagnetic and paleontological data and ranges between ~ 1.2 and 0.75 Ma. The Dandiero Basin is controlled by two main roughly NNW-SSE trending, east dipping normal faults. The westernmost fault delimits the basins from the plateau, whereas the easternmost marks the limit between the basin succession and the Late Pleistocene Samoti Plain. We infer that the NNW-trending faults were progressively activated as a consequence of the Danakil Block counter clockwise rotation and were superimposed to the N-S trending faults that delimited the basin at the time of its inception as a marginal graben roughly aligned to the Eritrean-Ethiopian plateau. The timing of deformation (1.2 Ma up to Present) is well constrained by the age of syntectonic sediments of the Dandiero Basin and volcanic products of the Alid Volcano. These relations allowed us to refine the timing and evolution of this sector of Afar and giving some insights on the geodynamics of the area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-357
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2017


  • Afar
  • Basin analysis
  • Danakil block
  • Dandiero Basin
  • Magnetostratigraphy
  • Structural analysis


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