School of Earth and Environment

Christopher Moore Christopher Moore

Postgraduate Researcher

Email address:
Room: 8.152

Affiliation: Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics


MGeophys, BSc (First Class Hons), Geophysical Sciences (International), University of Leeds, 2016

Project details

Project title

What controls the magmatic plumbing systems of spreading centres in Afar?


Professor Tim Wright, Professor Andy Hooper, and Dr Juliet Biggs (University of Bristol)


NERC RiftVolc Project

Start date

1 October 2016

Project outline

Late-stage continental rifting in Afar, Ethiopia, provides the opportunity to observe magmatic spreading centres analogous to that of slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. Simple thermal models developed at mid-ocean ridges, suggest that the depth of magma chambers is controlled primarily by spreading velocity and rates of magma supply. In such models, isolated, deep magma chambers underneath central volcanoes are found at slow-spreading ridges such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and elongated, shallow axial magma chambers are only found at fast-spreading ridges such as the East Pacific Rise. However, recent observations from the subaerial spreading centre in Afar of a long-lived shallow axial magmatic system under the slow-spreading Erta Ale magmatic segment suggest that existing models may need revision. Here I use new Sentinel-1 InSAR observations of surface motions at volcanoes in Afar to test and constrain current models of magmatic systems at spreading centres.

The project aims to:

  • Make use of new and existing observations of deformation using the full 20 year archive of SAR data from ERS, Envisat, and Sentinel-1.
  • Determine the depths and geometries of magmatic systems using elastic models, along with complementary constraints acquired during the Afar Rift Consortium project from GNSS, seismicity, petrology, and magnetotellurics.
  • Examine how the depth of the magmatic systems in Afar varies with spreading velocity and rates of magmatic supply, and compare to other subaerial (Iceland) and submerged (mid-ocean ridges) spreading centres.
  • Test simple thermal models of magmatic systems at spreading centres, and develop them to account for a potential discordance between the model and observations at subaerial spreading centres.

This expands the existing reach of the RiftVolc project to the Afar region, which was the focus of the Afar Rift Consortium project, providing new constraints on magmatic systems that can be compared to those made in the Main Ethiopian Rift.