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The Neogene Split From Africa: The Arabian South and Southwest Margins

January 01, 1991


The Arabian south and southwest passive margins evolved during the Neogene as a result of Eocene-Oligocene extension, rifting and breakup of Afro-Arabia. Separation of Arabia away from Africa followed as a consequence of sea-floor spreading in the Gulf of Aden. This spreading propagated to the Red Sea and rotated Arabia in a counter-clockwise direction, simultaneously moving it northward along the Levant Fracture (Dead Sea transform), which became the new northwest Arabian plate margin.

The Gulf of Aden opened initially, it appears, because of the westward propagation of the spreading Indian Ocean Carlsberg Ridge. This propagation was accompanied by an increasing component of compression developing along the Owen Fracture Zone (OFZ) transform in response to a sharp change in spreading direction during the earlier Eocene (Moseley and Abbots, 1979). The Sheba Ridge of the Gulf of Aden only developed when sea-floor spreading became established in the Miocene, and it constitutes a dextrally offset extension of the Carlsberg Ridge on the west side of the OFZ. By contrast, as yet the Red Sea has no central ridge but has only an axial trough principally in the southern and central portion, which is a current site of high heat flow (Figures 1 and 24).

Researchers have proposed a number of models for the evolution of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. To date, these researchers dispute such points as whether, once sea-floor spreading commenced, it was episodic or continuous; whether the crust under the Red Sea is oceanic across much of

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AAPG Studies in Geology

Arabian Plate Hydrocarbon Geology and Potential—A Plate Tectonic Approach

Z. R. Beydoun
Z. R. Beydoun
American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Marathon International Petroleum (GB) Ltd., London, U.K.
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
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January 01, 1991




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