Abstract

Whether the Red Sea floor is underlain mostly by oceanic or extended continental crustal material is a controversial topic. To test between the two hypotheses, we used a digital color mosaic of 23 Landsat thematic mapper (TM) scenes with field, geochemical, and geochronological data to identify and correlate crosscutting geologic features on the African and Arabian sides. Faults, shear zones, sutures, granitic complexes, volcano-sedimentary units, and dike swarms align if Arabia is rotated relative to Africa by 6.7° around a pole at lat 34.6°N, long 18.1°E. This solution implies that the amount of continental crust underlying the Red Sea is small because the restored Red Sea coasts are typically juxtaposed.

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