Transition from continental rifting to oceanic spreading in the northern Red Sea area
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Lithosphere extension, which plays an essential role in plate tectonics, occurs both in continents (as rift systems) and oceans (spreading along mid-oceanic ridges). The northern Red Sea area is a unique natural geodynamic laboratory, where the ongoing transition from continental rifting to oceanic spreading can be observed. Here, we analyze travel time data from a merged catalogue provided by the Egyptian and Saudi Arabian seismic networks to build a three-dimensional model of seismic velocities in the crust and uppermost mantle beneath the northern Red Sea and surroundings. The derived structures clearly reveal a high-velocity anomaly coinciding with the Red Sea basin and a narrow low-velocity anomaly centered along the rift axis. We interpret these structures as a transition of lithospheric extension from continental rifting to oceanic spreading. The transitional lithosphere is manifested by a dominantly positive seismic anomaly indicating the presence of a 50–70-km-thick and 200–300-km-wide cold lithosphere. Along the forming oceanic ridge axis, an elongated low-velocity anomaly marks a narrow localized nascent spreading zone that disrupts the transitional lithosphere. Along the eastern margins of the Red Sea, several low-velocity anomalies may represent crustal zone of massive Cenozoic basaltic magmatism. Show more
Journal / seriesScientific Reports
Pages / Article No.
PublisherNature Publishing Group
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