A 1.3 million year record of synchronous faulting in the hangingwall and border fault of a half-graben in the Malawi (Nyasa) Rift
This paper analyzes throw-depth (T-z) profiles from a high resolution 2D reflection seismic grid in the central basin of Lake Malawi to investigate whether evidence exists: 1) for migration of faulting away from the border fault of the half-graben; and 2) that faults in the hangingwall lengthened over the last 1.3 million years. We use the high-precision age model from a 2005 scientific drilling project in our study area to constrain the ages of our seismic horizons and examine a fault array and two individual faults within the hangingwall of the central basin border fault. We account for climatic and sedimentological controls on stratal growth with a lake-level curve that accompanies the age model. A comparison of our hangingwall T-z profiles with published throw-distance (T-x) profiles for the border fault shows synchronous faulting over the last 1.3 m.y. rather than basinward migration of faulting. Furthermore, we find no evidence for significant propagation of the tips of the hangingwall faults in the last 1.3 m.y. and conclude that the lack of basinward migration of faulting is a consequence of strain localization on faults established at an early stage in basin development.