We conduct a joint inversion of teleseismic receiver functions and Rayleigh wave phase velocity dispersion from both ambient noise and earthquakes using data from 79 seismic stations in southern Africa, which is home to some of the world's oldest cratons and orogenic belts. The area has experienced two of the largest igneous activities in the world (the Okavango dyke swarm and Bushveld mafic intrusion) and thus is an ideal locale for investigating continental formation and evolution. The resulting 3-D shear wave velocities for the depth range of 0—100Â km and crustal thickness measurements show a clear spatial correspondence with known geological features observed on the surface. Higher than normal mantle velocities found beneath the southern part of the Kaapvaal craton are consistent with the basalt removal model for the formation of cratonic lithosphere. In contrast, the Bushveld complex situated within the northern part of the craton is characterized by a thicker crust and higher crustal Vp/Vs but lower mantle velocities, which are indicative of crustal underplating of mafic materials and lithospheric refertilization by the world's largest layered mafic igneous intrusion. The thickened crust and relatively low elevation observed in the Limpopo belt, which is a late Archean collisional zone between the Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe cratons, can be explained by eclogitization of the basaltic lower crust. The study also finds evidence for the presence of a stalled segment of oceanic lithosphere beneath the southern margin of the Proterozoic Namaqua-Natal mobile belt.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Keywords and Phrases

ambient noise tomography; continental crust; Kaapvaal craton; Limpopo belt; lithosphere

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2019 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2019