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High-resolution, air-gun-sourced seismic reflection surveys over the offshore regions of five river deltas in Lake Malawi in the East African rift system reveal considerable variability in acoustic facies and stratigraphic architecture. This variability can largely be attributed to the influences of different structural settings, and to a lesser degree to high-amplitude (100-400 m) and high-frequency (1000 to 100,000 yr) fluctuations in lake level. Deltas on flexural and axial margins in the rift lake show well-developed progradational geometries. In contrast, a delta on a steep, accommodation zone margin distributes coarse sediments over a broad depositional apron, rather than concentrating sediment in discrete progradational lobes as on the other deltas. A large border ault margin river delta displays the most complex tectonic and stratigraphic architecture of all the deltas studied. It contains several delta-associated facies, including prograding clinoform packages, fan deltas stacked against a boundary fault, and extensive subaqueous fans. Flexural margin lowstand deltas may be the most prospective for hydrocarbon exploration due to their large, internally well-organized, progradational lobes and their close proximity to deep-water, high total organic carbon lacustrine source facies.
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