Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program



Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

Gani M Royhan

Second Advisor

Gani Nahid DS

Third Advisor

Georgiou Ioannis Y.


The Ethiopian Plateau is one of the few tectonically-active regions on Earth that is situated in continental rift zones. About 1.6 km deep gorge of the Nile was carved by the Blue Nile River on the Ethiopian Plateau, as the plateau has been experiencing continuous uplift and exhumation in the Cenozoic. Here, we used quantitative analysis of longitudinal rive-profile forms and parameters (knickpoint and normalized steepness-index ksn) of the Blue Nile tributaries to tease out regional tectonic signals.

244 knickpoints were examined in the tributaries, majority (>80%) of which are unassociated with lithology or geological structures. Knickpoint distribution throughout the plateau reveals three incision phases. The novel approach of correlation of ksn with mantle tomography suggests that higher and lower ksn values occur above low-velocity and high-velocity zones, respectively, indicating that thermal upwelling beneath the plateau linked to Afar mantle plume largely controls the uplift thus incision of the plateau.


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