Seismic and Tectonic Correspondence of Major Earthquake Regions in Southern Ghana with Mid-Atlantic Transform-Fracture Zones


For four centuries now, southern Ghana has been known to be seismically active, and there is no clear geological explanation for the cause of the seismicity. By evaluating new field data and information with re-interpreted historical earthquake data of southern Ghana, the nature of the seismicity of southern Ghana has been elucidated. The mutual connection between the earthquake epicentres and the remote causes by Mid-Atlantic transform faults and fracture zones has been established. The seismic regions of southern Ghana have been linked separately to tectonic faults and activities of the St. Paul’s and Romanche transform-fracture zone systems offshore in the Gulf of Guinea to onshore. It is concluded that the seismicity of southern Ghana is due to tectonic activities of the St. Paul’s and Romanche transform-fracture systems. The Accra region earthquakes originate from reactivation of faults in the Romanche transform-fracture zone, and propagate onshore through Accra and environs. The Axim region earthquakes come from reactivated faults linked to the St Paul’s fracture zone, which go through southern Cote D’Ivoire to Ghana. Seismotectonic movements along the St Paul’s transform and fracture zones have quieted since 1879. But movement along the Romanche Transform fault and Fracture zone is active, causing ongoing seismicity of southern Ghana.

Share and Cite:

J. Kutu, "Seismic and Tectonic Correspondence of Major Earthquake Regions in Southern Ghana with Mid-Atlantic Transform-Fracture Zones," International Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 4 No. 10, 2013, pp. 1326-1332. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2013.410128.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] N. R. Junner, D. A. Bates, E. Tillotson and C. S. Deakin, “The Accra Earthquake of 22nd June, 1939,” Gold Coast Geological Survey Bulletin, No. 13, 1941, pp. 1-57.
[2] Nature 147, “The Accra Earthquake of June 22, 1939,” 1941.
[3] A. O. Quaah, “Microseismicity, Past Seismic Activity and Seismic Risk in Southern Ghana,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of London, London, 1980.
[4] N. N. Ambraseys and R. D. Adams, “Seismicity of West Africa,” Annales Geophysicae, Vol. 4B, No. 6, 1986, pp. 769-702.
[5] P. E. Amponsah, “Seismic Activity in Relation to Fault Systems in Southern Ghana,” Journal of African Earth Sciences, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2002, pp. 227-234.
[6] P. E. Amponsah, “Seismic Activity in Ghana: Past, Present and Future,” Annals of Geophysics, Vol. 47, No. 2-3, 2004, pp. 539-543.
[7] P. Amponsah, G. Leydecker and R. Muff, “Earthquake Catalogue of Ghana for the Period 1615-2003 with Special Reference to the Tectono-Structural Evolution of South-East Ghana,” Journal of African Earth Sciences, Vol. 75, 2012, pp. 1-13.
[8] K. Burke, “Seismic Areas of the Guinea Coast Where Atlantic Fracture Zones Reach Africa,” Nature, Vol. 222, 1969, pp. 655-657.
[9] W. J. McCallien, “The Rocks of Accra,” University of Ghana Publ. Board, Legon, 1962.
[10] G. O. Kesse, “The Mineral and Rock Resources of Ghana,” A.A.Balkema Publishers, the Netherlands,1985.
[11] K. Attoh, L. Brown, J. Guo and J. Heanlean, “Seismic Stratigraphic Record of Transpression and Uplift on the Romanche Transform Margin, Offshore Ghana,” Tectonophysics, Vol. 378, No. 1-2, 2004, pp. 1-16.
[12] Ghana Geological Survey and BGR, “Geological Map of Ghana 1:1000000,” Ghana Geological Survey Department, Accra/ Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover, 2009.
[13] W. R. Fitches, “Pan African Orogeny in the Coastal Regions of Ghana,” Nature, Vol. 226, No. 5247, 1970, pp. 744-748.
[14] K. Attoh, R. D. Dallmeyer and P. Affaton, “Chronology of Nappe Assembly in the Pan-African Dahomeyide Orogen, West Africa: Evidence from 40Ar/39Ar Mineral Ages,” Precambrian Research, Vol. 82, 1997, pp. 153-171.
[15] Tout sur Google Earth, “Atlas des Mers et des Oceans,” image, cinabrio, 2008.
[16] R. D. Muller and W. R. Roest, “Fracture Zones in the North Atlantic from Combined Geosat and Seasat Data,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 97, No. B3, 1992, pp. 3337-3350.
[17] K. C. Condie, “Plate Tectonics and Crustal Evolution,” 4th Ed., Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1997.
[18] A. Cox and R. B. Hart, “Plate Tectonics: How It Works,” Blackwell Scientific Publications, Inc., Palo Alto, 1986.
[19] D. J. Blundell and J. K. A. Banson, “Interpretation of Seismic Reflection Survey across the Continental Shelf South of Accra and Its Bearing on Earthquakes in the Area,” Ghana Geological Survey Report, No. 75/1, 1975, 7 p.
[20] Flashearth, “NAVTEQ-Bing Maps,” Microsoft Corporation, Imagery@NASA, 2009. maps/msl
[21] X. Le Pichon and D. E. Hayes, “Marginal Offsets, Fractures Zones, and the Early Opening of the South Atlantic,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 76, No. 26, 1971, pp. 6283-6293.
[22] M. H. Khan, “Cretaceous and Tertiary Rocks of Ghana, with Historical Account of Oil Exploration,” Ghana Geological Survey Bulletin, No. 40, 1970.
[23] M. Gary, Jr., R. McAfee and C. L. Wolf, “Glossary of Geology,” American Geological Institute, Washington DC, 1974.
[24] B. A. Bolt, “Earthquakes: A Primer,” W.H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1978.
[25] P. Singh, “Engineering and General Geology,” 8th Edition, S. K. Kataria & Sons, Delhi, 2008.
[26] D. A. Wiens and H. J. Gilbert, “Effect of Slab Temperature on Deep-Earthquake, Aftershock Productivity and Magnitude-Frequency Relations,” Nature, vol. 384, 1996, pp. 153-156.
[27] E. A. Okal and L. M. Stewart, “Slow Earthquakes along the Oceanic Fracture Zones: Evidence for Asthenospheric Flow away from Hotspots?” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 57, No. 1, 1982, pp. 75-87.
[28] D. R. Yarwood and D. I. Doser, “Deflection of Oceanic Transform Motion at a Continental Margin as Deduced from Waveform Inversion of the 1939 Accra, Ghana Earthquake,” Tectonophysics, Vol. 172, No. 3-4, 1990, pp. 341-349.
[29] M. R. Binks and J. D. Fairhead, “A Plate Tectonic Setting for Mesozoic Rifts of West and Central Africa,” Tectonophysics, Vol. 213, No. 1-2, 1992, pp. 141-151.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.