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Constraints on Spatial and Temporal Strain Distribution During Continental Rifting Processes Along the Central Red Sea Rift System in Saudi Arabia

Eugene Szymanski.

University of Kansas, Department of Geology

Lawrence, KS 66045-7613

[email protected]

The Red Sea basin is the prototype for many models of orthogonal continental rifting, yet many temporal and spatial strain distribution aspects, as well as the dynamic evolution of the rift architecture of the Red Sea, remain poorly constrained. Especially significant is the lack of constraints on the kinematics of exhumed rift flank rocks and pre- and syn-rift strata, as they reveal both the geometry of sedimentary depositional systems and the thermal evolution of basin sediments that controls hydrocarbon maturation. This study aims to understand the development of extensional structures, syn-extensional sedimentary deposits, and rift-related Tertiary basaltic volcanism along the central flank of the rift system in Saudi Arabia. Full-scale geo- and thermochronometric, structural, and sedimentological work has focused on a series of structurally-controlled extensional basins inboard from the coastal escarpment that demonstrate extensional faulting well inboard from the modern rift margin. Initial study has identified a series of siliciclastic sedimentary sequences within the NW-trending Hamd-Jizil basin, an inland basin located north of Madinah and thought to be of syn-rift character. Measuring ~200 km along strike and up to 20 km in width, the Hamd-Jizil basin is structurally characterized by two half-grabens kinematically linked by soft accommodation zones that exploit basement anisotropies. Locally, Tertiary basalt flows cap syn-rift sedimentary sections, provide basin infill, and appear faulted by a younger series of normal faults. Work continues on the production of further geo- and thermochronologic data for the Tertiary basalt sequences as well as the entire rift flank region.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90060©2006 AAPG Foundation Grants-in-Aid