Abstract

Several analogue models were merged to link the post-Oligocene closure of the Neotethys seaway with the break-up of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The seaway closure since the early Neogene, which was a result of northwards subduction of Neotethyan lithosphere under south–central Eurasia, generated two styles of kinematic convergence. Its western branch forms the Tethyan subduction under south–central Eurasia along the Hellenic deformation front, generating the break-up of the Aegean Sea and the westward migration of Anatolia. The eastern branch comprises the oblique convergence of Arabia with eastern Anatolia and Iran along the Bitlis–Zagros suture, which gradually shifted from subduction to collision. Because the velocity of plate collision is slower than that of subduction, the subducting section of the underthrust slab moves faster than the colliding segment. Consequently, the underthrust Arabian slab rotated counterclockwise, and developed detachment zones. Such extension triggered the resumption of the propagation of the Carlsberg Ridge into the Gulf of Aden, after being stalled for nearly 30 Ma. It is presumed further that the break-up of the Red Sea in the mid-Miocene was superimposed on the regional uplift and exhumation of the Arabo-Nubian Massif, which was caused by a mantle plume in the Oligocene, a plume that subsequently affected the Ethiopian and the East African plateaux in the Neogene.

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