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Structural geometry and evolution of the Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania: Implications for helium potential

Mulaya, Ernest and Gluyas, Jon and McCaffrey, Ken and Phillips, Thomas and Ballentine, Chris (2022) 'Structural geometry and evolution of the Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania: Implications for helium potential.', Basin Research .


The Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania is regarded as a modern example of a cratonic rift zone despite complex polyphase extensional and episodic inversion structures. We interpret 2D seismic reflection data tied to wells to identify and describe structures controlling stratigraphic sequences (Late Carboniferous to Pleistocene) in two main segmented Rukwa Rift domains, A and B, which are controlled by the Chisi and Saza shear zones. Fault geometry and stratal patterns are illustrated in relation to their kinematic interaction with folds. Fold structures reflect both extensional and compressional deformation and were mapped with a particular interest for their helium potential. We illustrate fault bend folds, fault propagation folds and fault propagation monoclines that are related to extension events. Folds related to compression exhibit various structural styles reflecting at least two phases of episodic and widespread inversion. First, Early Jurassic inversion phase which involved multi-faulted anticlines in the Karoo strata. Second, a mild and widespread inversion structures during the Pleistocene which are characterised by both symmetrical and asymmetrical anticlines styles. Taken together, the extensional and compressional fold structures, stratal juxtapositions and unconformities define stratigraphic packages that are widely distributed in the Rukwa Rift Basin, and form potential subsurface traps for helium-nitrogen–rich gases, from which some seep to the surface, evidently documented in thermal springs across the region.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 08 January 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:12 December 2021
Date deposited:10 January 2022
Date of first online publication:08 January 2022
Date first made open access:08 January 2023

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