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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, 34 (2). pp. 938-960.


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
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Publisher statement:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Mulaya, Ernest, Gluyas, Jon, McCaffrey, Ken, Phillips, Thomas & Ballentine, Chris (2022). Structural geometry and evolution of the Rukwa Rift Basin, Tanzania: Implications for helium potential. Basin Research 34(2): 938-960, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Date accepted:12 December 2021
Date deposited:10 January 2022
Date of first online publication:19 December 2021
Date first made open access:19 December 2022

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