Abstract

Jurassic to Eocene sedimentary rocks in central Arabia have been deformed by faulting and jointing. We measured these structures in the field. Paleostress directions from these data demonstrate that successive extensional events occurred.

Introduction

The effects on platforms of distal tectonic events can be used to study the deformation in front of mountain belts (Bergerat, 1987) or between more highly deformed regions (Bergerat et al., 1992). These studies may yield clues to the directions of plate motion which may be difficult to decipher within the mountain belts due to the complexity of the deformation, or they may aid in determining the deformation process. Unlike regions previously studied in this context, the Arabian Platform is not just in front of a mountain belt such as the West European Platform (Bergerat, 1987) nor trapped between deformed zones such as the Colorado Plateau (Bergerat et al., 1992), but is the foreland of the Bitlis/Zagros/Oman deformation belt and is also near the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden which have been forming as small ocean basins simultaneously with convergence in the mountain belt. Previous workers have argued that the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden could not have formed as a "passive" rift related to the formation of the Bitlis/Zagros belt because the Arabian Platform is undeformed. In this paper, we show that the central Arabian platform has indeed been deformed and we link its deformation to tectonic events occurring on the margins of the Arabian plate supporting models for a passive origin of the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden (Gordon and Hempton, 1986; Hempton, 1987; Bohannon et al., 1989).

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