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Geoscientist Online

Magmatic Rifting and Active Volcanism

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The association of magmatism with the extensional rifting of continental crust is a key factor in the fragmentation or break-up of established continental lithosphere. Deciphering the complex interactions between magmatism and rifting is problematic as the collective ‘end-products’ of this (now-inactive) system are concealed beneath substantial sedimentary deposits.

This GSL Special Publication explores the relationship between magmatism, rifting and active volcanism documenting the current geoscientific research conducted over the complete rift system, from initiation of continental break-up to the final ‘products’ preserved within continental margins and at active mid-ocean ridges. The volume concentrates on currently active rift systems in order to understand system components that are now inactive, with particular emphasis placed on the East African Rift system and Ethiopian Afar region.

Introduced with an overview paper from the editors, the volume presents 17 papers organised into four thematic sections, chronologically arranged to cover the spectrum of magmatic rift settings, from the initiation of continental break-up to sea floor spreading: Role of magmatism in continental rifting, Magma-dominated rifting in the Afar triple junction, Mid-ocean ridges and continental margins and Hazards from magmatic rifts.

The first section focuses on East Africa and also includes a case study of the Colima Rift in western Mexico. The second (and main) section reports new observations and insights on the magma-dominated rifting in the Ethiopian Afar region which is undergoing the final phases of continental break-up (or potentially where sea floor spreading has initiated).

The third section describes the tectonic and magmatic processes operating at active mid-ocean ridges and examines the closing stages of continental fragmentation / break-up from rock associations preserved within continental margins. The final section additionally addresses hazards related to active magmatic rift settings and their significance for appropriate risk management and hazard reduction strategies.

In summary, the volume provides an excellent overview of the recent interdisciplinary geoscientific developments within this important and evolving field. The contributions are well-written and edited, complemented with appropriate figures, photographs and data-tables, features that one has come to expect from the GSL Special Publication series. The editors and contributors are to be congratulated. An informative and recommended read.

Reviewed by Mark Griffin

MAGMATIC RIFTING AND ACTIVE VOLCANISM by Wright T J, Ayele A, Ferguson D J, Kidane, T and Vye-Brown, C (editors). Geological Society of London Special Publication No 420. 2016. Geological Society of London. ISBN 978-1-86239-729-3. Hbk. 374pp. ISSN 0305-8719. List Price: £120.00, Fellows' Price £60.00 W: www.geolsoc.org.uk/SP420