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CAMEROON Project Summary

We propose to critically evaluate models for the origin of volcanic lines without age progression by examining the seismic structure of the crust and upper mantle beneath the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL). Volcanic lines without age progression cannot be explained by the conventional plume model, and there is no consensus about their origin. One family of models proposes that hot lines can be explained by added complexities within the plume framework. These models include lateral transport of plume material, recurrent volcanism due to relict plume material in the mantle along an old plume track, and multiple plumes. Several investigators have proposed lithospheric tensional cracks or so-called “leaky fracture” to explain simultaneous volcanism along linear features, including the CVL. The other possibility is that hot lines are associated with upwelling limb of small scale convection cells.

The CVL, a 1500 km long line of Cenozoic volcanic constructs, provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the crust and mantle structure of a hot line. The CVL is one of the most prominent volcanic lines lacking a discernable age progression, and it is relatively active, with Holocene volcanism along nearly its entire length. About one-half of the length of the CVL occurs on land, allowing extensive study of crust and upper mantle structure without the expense of seafloor instrumentation.

To image the seismic structure of the crust and upper mantle beneath the CVL, we are carrying out a 2-years passive-source broadband seismic experiment in Cameroon that began in early 2005. For the first 9 months of the experiment, the seismic network consists of 8 stations. For the final 12 months, the network will be densified to 32 stations. The broadband seismic data will be analyzed using a number of proven modeling techniques, including body and surface wave tomography, receiver functions, and shear wave splitting. The results will enable us to test candidate models for the origin of the CVL and will provide important constraints on the distribution of hot mantle material and the dynamics of the mantle beneath hot lines in general.


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This project was funded by the National Science Foundation

Revised: September 30, 2005