- © 2015 Geological Society of South Africa
A three-dimensional interpretation of the central part of the West and Central African Rift System (WCARS) is presented using the Earth Gravity Model 2008 (EGM2008). The 3-D model presented here provides new insights into the regional lithospheric structure of the central sector of the WCARS. The 3-D model reveals a possible crustal thickness and density distribution beneath the rift system, and the depth extent of magmatic activity in the Benue Trough is revealed for the first time. Because of asthenospheric uplift, the crust under the Benue Trough is thinned. The zone of crustal thinning (<30 km) coincides with the trace of an intrusion beneath the trough, and the maximum of which is attained in the Yola Basin. The Adamawa and Kapsiki Plateaus, on the other hand, show by far the largest crustal thickness in the region (34 to 36 km). The inferred zone of intrusion coincides with the maximum gravity anomaly of the rift zone. The great depth (ca. 14 km) to the top of the intrusion along the rift may explain the absence of magmatism in the Benue Trough compared to the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL) or the East African Rift System (EARS). The relatively small nature of the intrusion leads to the conclusion that small-scale asthenospheric upwelling might be responsible for the thinning of the crust and subsequent rifting of the Benue Trough.