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3D lithosphere-scale modelling of the South Atlantic passive continental margins with focus on the South African and Argentine segments

Principal Investigators: Dr Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth, Dr. Hans-Jürgen Götze, Dr. Christian Reichert ScheckRundeI

We aim to understand the present day structure and the mechanisms of subsidence of two conjugate segments of the South Atlantic on a regional scale: the Argentine margin and the South African margin. Accordingly, we plan (1) to assess first-order heterogeneities in the sediments, crust and upper mantle and (2) to understand the main factors controlling their evolution. The project contributes to one of the main scientific objectives of the SAMPLE program, namely Lithospheric Structure, Deformation and Breakup Processes. We want to explore how far knowledge of the sedimentary and upper crustal configuration at passive volcanic margins can provide constraints for the deeper parts of the system and how far the preserved record of post-breakup deposits holds the key to unravel margin history. The present-day geometry and distribution of physical properties within the upper and middle crust will be integrated into data-based, 2D and 3D structural models, which, in turn, provide the base for the analysis of the deeper crust and the lithospheric mantle. Different configurations of the deeper lithosphere will be tested against two independent observables: gravity and temperature using isostatic, 3D gravity and 3D thermal modelling. The resultant density and temperature configurations help to constrain present rheology and flexural models of effective elastic thickness. To understand the interplay and variations of pre-, syn- and post-breakup vertical movements, the models of the present state will be used to reconstruct margin history with a combined approach incorporating subsidence analysis and basin history inversion models.