Abstract

When the highlands of Arabia were still covered with an ice shield in the latest Carboniferous/Early Permian period, separation of Gondwana started. This led to the creation of the Batain basin (part of the early Indian Ocean), off the northeastern margin of Oman. The rifting reactivated an Infra-Cambrian rift shoulder along the northeastern Oman margin and detritus from this high was shed into the interior Oman basin. Whereas carbonate platform deposits became widespread along the margin of the Neo-Tethys (northern rim of Oman), drifting and oceanization of the Batain basin started only in Late Jurassic/Early Cretaceous time. Extensional tectonics was followed in the Late Cretaceous by contraction caused by the northward drift of Greater India and Afro-Arabia. This resulted in the collision of Afro-Arabia with an intra-oceanic trench and obduction of the Semail ophiolite and the Hawasina nappes south to southwestward onto the northern Oman margin ~ 80 m.y. ago. During the middle Cretaceous, the oceanic lithosphere (including the future eastern ophiolites of Oman) drifted northwards as part of the Indian plate. At the Cretaceous–Palaeogene transition (~ 65 Ma), oblique convergence between Greater India and Afro-Arabia caused fragments of the early Indian Ocean to be thrust onto the Batain basin. Subsequently, the Lower Permian to uppermost Maastrichtian sediments and volcanic rocks of the Batain basin, along with fragments of Indian Ocean floor (eastern ophiolites), were obducted northwestward onto the northeastern margin of Oman. Palaeogene neo-autochtonous sedimentary rocks subsequently covered the nappe pile. Tertiary extensional tectonics related to Red Sea rifting in the Late Eocene was followed by Miocene shortening, associated with the collision of Arabia and Eurasia and the formation of the Oman Mountains.

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