New K Ar age determinations of Kilimanjaro volcano in the North Tanzanian diverging rift, East Africa
The Kilimanjaro is the African highest mountain and culminates at 5895 m high. This huge volcanic edifice is composed of three main centres along a N110°E-striking axis (Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi from W to E), and emplaced in a key area where a major N80°E-oriented volcanic lineament intersects a first-order NW-SE basement fault-like discontinuity. Seventeen K-Ar ages (on microcrystalline groundmass) acquired on lavas and intrusive facies from the three eruptive centres confirm that the Plio-Quaternary volcanicity of Kilimanjaro is clearly polyphased. The oldest phases of volcanic activity begun at ~ 2.5 Ma in the Shira vent and our data suggest that the latest important phases occurred around 1.9 Ma, just before the collapse of the Northern part of the edifice. Magmatic activity then shifted eastwards in the Mawenzi and Kibo twin centres where initial volcanism is dated at ~ 1 Ma. Two K-Ar ages obtained for the most recent Mawenzi rocks from the Neumann Tower-Mawenzi group (492 ka) and Mawenzi eruptive centre (448 ka), near the present summit, are linked to the final stage of edification for this centre. Whereas the eruptive activity ceased in the Mawenzi, it still continued on Kibo since sub-actual time. The oldest dated rocks from Kibo (482 ka) is obtained on a dyke from the Lava Tower group cropping out at 4600 m high. The main phase of magmatism on Kibo is recorded by two lava formations with a great spatial extension - the Rhomb Porphyry group and the Lent group - that have been emplaced in a short time interval at ~ 460-360 ka (including two erosive stages) and 359-337 ka, respectively. Based on the dating of Caldera rim group lavas, it is shown that the edification of the present cone was accomplished in a period ranging from 274 to 170 ka. The new ages obtained for the main episodes of volcanic activity on Kibo appear to roughly coincide with the oldest known Quaternary glaciations. The interaction between eruptive phenomena and the ice cover is assumed to have played an important role in triggering collapse processes and associated lahars deposits. The last volcanicity, around 200-150 ka, is marked by the formation of the present summit crater in Kibo and the development of linear parasitic volcanic belts, constituted by numerous Strombolian-type isolated cones on the NW and SE slopes of Kilimanjaro. These belts are likely to occur above deep-seated fractures that have guided the magma ascent, and the changes in their directions with time might be related to the rotation of recent local stress field.