International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 108, Issue 1, pp 89–113 | Cite as

Evolution of the Southwestern Angolan Margin: episodic burial and exhumation is more realistic than long-term denudation

  • Bruno Venancio da SilvaEmail author
  • Peter Christian Hackspacher
  • Marli Carina Siqueira Ribeiro
  • Ulrich Anton Glasmacher
  • Antonio Olimpio Gonçalves
  • Carolina Doranti-Tiritan
  • Daniel Françoso de Godoy
  • Renata Regina Constantino
Review Article


There are two main points of view regarding how continental margins evolve. The first one argues that the present-day margins have been developed by long-term denudation since a major exhumation episode, probably driven by rifting or another relevant tectonic event. The second one argues that continental margins underwent alternating burial and exhumation episodes related to crustal tectonic and surface uplift and subsidence. To demonstrate that the proximal domain of the southwestern Angolan margin has evolved in a polycyclic pattern, we present a review of geological and thermochronological information and integrate it with new combined apatite fission-track and (U-Th)/He data from Early Cretaceous volcanic and Precambrian basement samples. We also provide hypotheses on the possible mechanisms able to support the vertical crustal movements of this margin segment, which are also discussed based on some modern rifting models proposed for Central South Atlantic. The central apatite fission-track ages range from 120.6 ± 8.9 to 272.9 ± 21.6 Ma, with the mean track lengths of approximately 12 µm. The single-grain apatite (U-Th)/He ages vary between 52.2 ± 1 and 177.2 ± 2.6 Ma. The integration of the thermochronological data set with published geological constraints supports the following time-temperature evolution: (1) heating since the Carboniferous–Permian, (2) cooling onset in the Early Jurassic, (3) heating onset in the Early Cretaceous, (4) cooling onset in the Mid- to Late Cretaceous, (5) heating onset in the Late Cretaceous, and (6) cooling onset in the Oligocene–Miocene. The thermochronological data and the geological constraints, support that the proximal domain of the southwestern Angolan margin was covered in the past by pre-, syn-, and post-rift sediments, which were eroded during succeeding exhumation events. For this margin segment, we show that a development based on long-term denudation is less realistic than one based on burial and exhumation episodes during the last 130 Myr.


Apatite fission track (U-Th)/He Namibe Basin Thermal modeling Thermochronology Passive margin 



Acknowledgements are given to the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for the scholarship and to Elton Luiz Dantas for using the SELFRAG laboratory at the University of Brasilia, Brazil. We also acknowledge the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Agostinho Neto University, Angola, for their support during fieldwork and the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Heidelberg University, Germany, for the preparation of the samples for AFT analysis. We are also grateful to Paul F. Green and anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments and important improvements on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno Venancio da Silva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter Christian Hackspacher
    • 1
  • Marli Carina Siqueira Ribeiro
    • 1
  • Ulrich Anton Glasmacher
    • 2
  • Antonio Olimpio Gonçalves
    • 3
  • Carolina Doranti-Tiritan
    • 1
  • Daniel Françoso de Godoy
    • 1
  • Renata Regina Constantino
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geosciences and Exact SciencesUNESP - São Paulo State UniversityRio ClaroBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of Earth SciencesHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Faculty of Natural SciencesAgostinho Neto UniversityLuandaAngola

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