SELASOMA: Seismological Signatures in the Lithosphere/Asthenosphere system of Southern Madagascar. Assembly and breakup of Gondwana

Motivation: The island of Madagascar occupied a key role in both the assembly and the multi-stage breakup of Gondwanaland itself part of the super-continent Pangaea. Madagascar consists of an amalgamation of continental fragments and contains a major shear zone system. During the Neogene moderate volcanism has occurred in the central and northern part of the island. Located within the interior of the African plate and far away from major plate boundaries (>1000 km), Madagascar shows seismic activity, an indicator that some deformation is taking place. Present-day kinematic models based on geodetic data and earthquake moment tensors identify a diffuse N-S-oriented minor boundary, apparently passing through Madagascar and separating two micro-plates. Global lithospheric studies indicate a thin lithosphere (<120 km) throughout Madagascar, but these are based on sparse data and cannot resolve possible differences between the eastern and the western island.

Seismic network: We have operated a SW NE oriented linear array of 25 broadband stations in southern Madagascar, extending from coast to coast and crossing surface geological boundaries at high angle: the sedimentary basin in the west, the Proterozoic and Archean metamorphic rocks in the east, as well as the major shear zones (e.g., the prominent Bongolava-Ranotsara). The array recorded a local M 5.3 earthquake in January 2013, which motivated us to deploy an additional 25 short period sensors in the eastern part of southern Madagascar, to record the so-far poorly characterized seismicity.

Studies: We applied multiple techniques to image the seismic structure of the crust and mantle lithosphere in southern Madagascar: Receiver function analysis, ambient noise correlation and tomography, shear wave splitting, computation of radial anisotropy and local seismicity analyses.

Time frame

  • 2012 - 2019

Principal Investigator

  • F. Tilmann (GFZ Potsdam)


  • J. Dreiling (GFZ Potsdam)
  • M. Reiss (Uni Frankfurt)
  • E. Rindraharisaona (Post-doctoral fellowship from the Alexander-von-Humboldt society)


  • GFZ Potsdam Expeditionsmittel
  • DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


  • G. Rümpker (Uni Frankfurt)
  • G. Rambolamana (Uni d'Antananarivo)

Research Unit(s)

  • RU2 (Plate Boundary Systems)


  • Andriampenomanana, F., Nyblade, A. A., Wysession, M. E., Durrheim, R. J., Tilmann, F., Julià, J., Pratt, M. J., Rambolamanana, G., Aleqabi, G., Shore, P. J., Rakotondraibe, T. (2017): The structure of the crust and uppermost mantle beneath Madagascar. - Geophysical Journal International, 210, 3, p. 1525-1544.
  • Pratt, M. J., Wysession, M. E., Aleqabi, G., Wiens, D. A., Nyblade, A. A., Shore, P., Rambolamanana, G., Andriampenomanana, F., Rakotondraibe, T., Tucker, R. D., Barruol, G., Rindraharisaona, E. J. (2017): Shear velocity structure of the crust and upper mantle of Madagascar derived from surface wave tomography. - Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 458, p. 405-417.
  • Rindraharisaona, E. J., Tilmann, F., Yuan, X., Rümpker, G., Giese, J., Rambolamanana, G., Barruol, G. (2017): Crustal structure of southern Madagascar from receiver functions and ambient noise correlation: Implications for crustal evolution. - Journal of Geophysical Research, 122, 2, p. 1179-1197.
  • Tilmann, F., Yuan, X., Rümpker, G., Rindraharisaona, E. J. (2017): Supplementary data for SELASOMA Project, Madagascar 2012-2014 Datasets.,
  • Reiss, M. C., Rümpker, G., Tilmann, F., Yuan, X., Giese, J., Rindraharisaona, E. J. (2016): Seismic anisotropy of the lithosphere and asthenosphere beneath southern Madagascar from teleseismic shear wave splitting analysis and waveform modeling. - Journal of Geophysical Research, 121, 9, p. 6627-6643. 2013
  • Rindraharisaona, E. J., M. Guidarelli, A. Aoudia, and G. Rambolamanana (2013), Earth structure and instrumental seismicity of Madagascar: Implications on the seismotectonics, Tectonophysics, 594, 165 181. 2012
  • Tilmann, F., Yuan, X., Rümpker, G., Rindraharisaona, E. J. (2012): SELASOMA Project, Madagascar 2012-2014.
Frederik Tilmann
Prof. Frederik Tilmann
Albert-Einstein-Straße 42-46
Building A 46, Room 103
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1240