An aeromagnetic survey has shown the existence of several basins in which magnetic basement depths are greater than 5 km on the continental shelf off Liberia. Magnetic diabase of 176 to 192 m.y. (Jurassic) in age intruding the Paleozoic (?) rocks and overlain by younger rocks onshore requires the distinction between “magnetic basement” and “basement.” Several lines of evidence suggest that the Paleozoic(?) rocks are less than 1 km thick; this implies that the diabase does not introduce a large error in depth-to-basement estimates. The dikes or their extrusive equivalents are traceable, on the basis of the magnetic data, beneath the younger sedimentary rock in the basins to the edge of the continental slope. The magnetic data also delineate a second zone of diabase dikes 90 km inland, parallel to the coast, which cross the entire country. The intrusion of the younger dikes probably coincides with rifting at the beginning of the separation of Africa and South America, and the associated magnetic anomaly zones appear to be parallel with and continuous into the anomaly bands in the Atlantic. A major northeast-trending break in the magnetic fabric intersects the coast near 9° W. and is associated with Eburnean age rocks (about 2000 m.y.) to the southeast as contrasted with Liberian-age rocks (about 2700 m.y.) to the northwest. Change in magnetic fabric direction inland from northeast to northwest in the coastal area allows recognition of a boundary between the Liberian-age rocks inland and Pan-African-age (about 550 m.y.) rocks in the coastal area northwest of about 9° 20'W. Sets of north-northwest-and west-northwest—trending faults of 1 to 2 km vertical displacement cut the Cretaceous sedimentary rocks onshore and can be traced into the offshore basins. Vertical displacements of several kilometers in the magnetic basement underlying the continental shelf suggest a pattern of block faulting all along the coast and continental shelf. Negative Bouguer anomalies exist over two Cretaceous basins in the coastal area; a negative Bouguer anomaly exists over one of the basins southwest of Monrovia, as shown by a marine traverse, suggesting that Cretaceous or younger sedimentary rocks fill these basins also. A 50 to 60 mgal positive Bouguer anomaly area exists along the coast from Sierra Leone to Ivory Coast. This anomaly correlates with mafic granulites in the Monrovia region, where the gradient is too steep to be entirely due to crustal thickening at the continental margin and may be related to tectonic activity associated with the basins. The only major break in this positive anomaly above basement rocks along the entire coast of Liberia is over granite gneiss adjacent to (and presumably underlying) the only onshore basins on the Liberian coast. Three seismic reflection profiles support the interpretation of a substantial section of sedimentary rock offshore. A suggested sequence of events indicates tectonic activity in the periods about 2700, about 2000, and about 550 m.y. B.P.; uplift and exposure of deep crustal rocks; deposition of Paleozoic sediments; intrusion of diabase dikes in inland zones; intrusion of 176 to 192 m.y.-old dikes and sills accompanying separation of Africa and South and North America; block faulting along coast and continental shelf, and active sea-floor spreading; filling of basins in Cretaceous and Tertiary(?) time; basaltic extrusion on spreading sea floor and sedimentation on continental shelf and slope.
Additional publication details
Aeromagnetic and gravity investigations of the Coastal Area and Continental Shelf of Liberia, West Africa, and their relation to continental drift