Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2548
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2548
24 Nov 2023
 | 24 Nov 2023

(D)rifting in the 21st century: Key processes, natural hazards and geo-resources

Frank Zwaan, Tiago Alves, Patricia Cadenas, Mohamed Gouiza, Jordan Phethean, Sascha Brune, and Anne Glerum

Abstract. Rifting and continental break-up is a key research topic within geosciences, and a thorough understanding of the processes involved, as well as of the associated natural hazard and natural resources is of great importance to both science and society. As a result, a large body of knowledge is available in the literature, yet most of previous research focuses on tectonic and geodynamic processes and their links to the evolution of rift systems. However, we believe that the key challenge for researchers is to make our knowledge of rift systems available and applicable to face new societal challenges. In particular, we should embrace a system analysis approach, and aim to apply our knowledge to better understand the links between rift processes, natural hazards, and the geo-resources that are of critical importance to realize the energy transition and a sustainable future. The aim of this paper is therefore to provide a first-order framework for such an approach, by providing an up-to-date summary of rifting processes, hazards, and geo-resources, followed by an assessment of future challenges and opportunities for research. We address the varied terminology used to characterise rifting in the scientific literature, followed by a description of rifting processes with a focus on the impact of (1) rheology and stain rates, (2) inheritance in three dimensions, (3) magmatism, and (4) surface processes. Subsequently, we address the considerable natural hazards and risks that occur in rift settings, which are linked to (I) seismicity, (II) magmatism, and (III) mass wasting, and provide some insights in how the impacts of these hazards can be mitigated. Moreover, we classify and describe the geo-resources occurring in rift environments as (a) non-energy resources, (b) geo-energy resources, (c) water and soils, and (d) opportunities for geological storage. Finally, we discuss the key challenges for the future linked to the aforementioned themes, and identify numerous opportunities for follow-up research and knowledge application. In particular, we see great potential in systematic knowledge transfer and collaboration between researchers, industry partners and government bodies, which may be the key to future successes and advancements.

Frank Zwaan, Tiago Alves, Patricia Cadenas, Mohamed Gouiza, Jordan Phethean, Sascha Brune, and Anne Glerum

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2548', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Frank Zwaan, 27 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2548', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC2', Frank Zwaan, 27 Feb 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2 --> correct one', Frank Zwaan, 27 Feb 2024
Frank Zwaan, Tiago Alves, Patricia Cadenas, Mohamed Gouiza, Jordan Phethean, Sascha Brune, and Anne Glerum
Frank Zwaan, Tiago Alves, Patricia Cadenas, Mohamed Gouiza, Jordan Phethean, Sascha Brune, and Anne Glerum

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Short summary
Rifting and the break-up of continents is a key aspect of Earth’s plate tectonic system. A thorough understanding of the geological processes involved in rifting, as well as of the associated natural hazards and resources, is of great importance in the context of the energy transition. Here, we provide a coherent overview of rift processes and the links with hazards and resources, and we assess future challenges and opportunities for (collaboration between) researchers, government, and industry.