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Eoalpine (Cretaceous) evolution of the Oman Tethyan continental margin; insights from a structural field study in Jabal Akhdar (Oman Mountains)

Jean-Paul Breton, Francois Bechennec, Joel Le Metour, Laure Moen-Maurel and Philippe Razin
Eoalpine (Cretaceous) evolution of the Oman Tethyan continental margin; insights from a structural field study in Jabal Akhdar (Oman Mountains)
GeoArabia (Manama) (2004) 9 (2): 41-58


A structural study in Jabal Akhdar (an autochthonous window in the Oman Mountains) shows that the thrusts and imbrications, mapped in the Permian-Cretaceous formations of the Arabian Platform, have a vergence top to the north-northeast and are associated with a regional cleavage resulting from a ductile shear deformation of the same vergence. This deformation affects the entire autochthonous unit, from the southwestern edge of Jabal Akhdar to the northeastern edge of Saih Hatat, with an increasing strain intensity towards the northeast. The same domain is also affected by a HP/LT metamorphism with a northeastward increase from chlorite facies to blueschist and eclogite facies, i.e. characteristic of a northeast-dipping subduction. However, the retrograde character of the metamorphic parageneses associated with the ductile shear, as well as its north-northeast vergence, indicate that this deformation is linked to the exhumation of the autochthon during the Campanian. These observations have been synthesised in a new lithospheric-scale interpretation of the geodynamic development of the North Oman continental margins during the middle to late Cretaceous. The sequential evolution along a transect passing from southwest of Jabal Akhdar to northeast of Muscat can be summarised as follows: An intra-continental subduction zone affected the autochthon of the Arabian Platform with a basal rupture lying in the proximal part of the continental margin, to the south of the northern edge of the carbonate platform. A North Muscat microplate was created between the intra-continental subduction zone and the intra-oceanic subduction that gave rise to the Samail Ophiolite; this microplate includes the outer part of the Arabian Platform, the continental slope and the entire Hawasina Basin. From Early Turonian to Late Santonian the obduction and the intra-continental subduction were coeval and parallel. The northeast edge of the North Muscat microplate plunged below the Samail Nappe whilst the emergent southwest part overthrust the innermost parts of the Arabian Platform. The leading edge of the Samail and Hawasina Nappes advanced across the southwestern border of the North Muscat microplate just before obduction and intra-continental subduction ceased at the Santonian-Campanian boundary. Towards the end of the intra-continental subduction, the lower part of the crust of the subducted autochthon delaminated the upper part, marking the first stage of the metamorphic rocks exhumation. From Early Campanian to Early Maastrichtian, the North Muscat microplate moved to the northeast, its northeastern edge sinking by gravity into the asthenosphere. The subducted autochthon rose up, and came into contact with the base of the obducted units. The resulting uplift of the ophiolite nappes produced its emergence and partial erosion. Local crustal thickening, related to the lithospheric delamination, caused doming at Saih Hatat and subsequent erosion that locally extended to the pre-Permian sedimentary basement during the Early Maastrichtian. The present day domal shape of Jabal Akhdar is however related to Tertiary tectonic events.

ISSN: 1025-6059
Serial Title: GeoArabia (Manama)
Serial Volume: 9
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Eoalpine (Cretaceous) evolution of the Oman Tethyan continental margin; insights from a structural field study in Jabal Akhdar (Oman Mountains)
Affiliation: Bureau de Recherches Geologiques et Minieres, France
Pages: 41-58
Published: 2004
Text Language: English
Publisher: Gulf Petrolink in Bahrain, Manama, Bahrain
References: 51
Accession Number: 2004-061202
Categories: Structural geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch map, sects., strat. col.
N20°00'00" - N30°00'00", E40°00'00" - E60°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: TOTAL Geosciences Division, FRA, FranceUniversity of Bordeaux, FRA, France
Country of Publication: Bahrain
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 200418
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