Abstract

The Arabia-Eurasia collision has been linked to global cooling, the slowing of Africa, Mediterranean extension, the rifting of the Red Sea, an increase in exhumation and sedimentation on the Eurasian plate, and the slowing and deformation of the Arabian plate. Collision age estimates range from the Late Cretaceous to Pliocene, with most estimates between 35 and 20 Ma. We assess the consequences of these collision ages on the magnitude and location of continental consumption by compiling all documented shortening within the region, and integrating this with plate kinematic reconstructions. Shortening estimates across the orogen allow for ∼350 km of Neogene upper crustal contraction, necessitating collision by 20 Ma. A 35 Ma collision requires additional subduction of ∼400–600 km of Arabian continental crust. Using the Oman ophiolite as an analogue, ophiolitic fragments preserved along the Zagros suture zone permit ∼180 km of subduction of the Arabian continental margin plus overlying ophiolites. Wholesale subduction of this more dense continental margin plus ophiolites would reconstruct ∼400–500 km of postcollisional Arabia-Eurasia convergence, consistent with a ca. 27 Ma initial collision age. This younger Arabia-Eurasia collision suggests a noncollisional mechanism for the slowing of Africa, and associated extension.

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