EGU21-9890, updated on 09 Jan 2023
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Architecture of the crust and lithosphere beneath the Semail Ophiolite from ambient noise tomography and receiver functions: insights on the tectonic evolution of eastern Arabia

Christian Weidle1, Lars Wiesenberg1, Andreas Scharf2, Philippe Agard3, Amr El-Sharkawy1,4, Frank Krüger5, and Thomas Meier1
Christian Weidle et al.
  • 1Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany (
  • 2Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman
  • 3Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
  • 4National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG), Cairo, Egypt
  • 5Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

The Semail Ophiolite is the worlds largest and best exposed oceanic lithosphere on land and a primary reference site for studies of creation of oceanic lithosphere, initiation of subduction, geodynamic models of obduction, subduction and exhumation of continental rocks during obduction. Five decades of geological mapping, structural, petrological and geochronological research provide a robust understanding of the geodynamic evolution of the shallow continental crust in northern Oman and how the late Cretaceous obduction process largely shaped the present-day landscape. Yet, prior to obduction, other first-order tectonic processes have left their imprint in the lithosphere, in particular the Neoproterozoic accretion of Arabia and Permian breakup of Pangea. Due to the scarcity of deep structure imaging below the ophiolite, the presence and significance of inherited structures for the obduction process remain unclear.

We discuss a new 3-D anisotropic shear wave velocity model of the crust below northern Oman derived from ambient noise tomography and Receiver Function analysis which allows to resolve some key unknowns in geodynamics of eastern Arabia: (1) Several NE-trending structural boundaries in the middle and lower crust are attributed to the Pan-African orogeny and align with first-order lateral changes in surface geology and topography. (2) The well-known Semail Gap Fault Zone is an upper crustal feature whereas two other deep crustal faults are newly identified. (3) Permian rifting occurred on both eastern and northern margins but large-scale mafic intrusions and/or underplating occurred only in the east. (4) While obduction is inherently lithospheric by nature, its effects are mostly observed at shallow crustal depths, and lateral variations in its geometry and dynamics can be explained by effects on pre-existing Pan-African and Permian structures. (5) Continental subduction and exhumation during late Cretaceous obduction may be the cause for crustal thickening below today‘s topography. (6) Thinning of the continental lithosphere below northern Oman in late Eocene times – possibly related to thermal effects of the incipient Afar mantle plume - provides a plausible mechanism for the broad emergence of the Oman Mountains and in particular the Jabal Akhdar Dome. Uplift might thus be unrelated to compressional tectonics during Arabia-Eurasia convergence as previously believed.

How to cite: Weidle, C., Wiesenberg, L., Scharf, A., Agard, P., El-Sharkawy, A., Krüger, F., and Meier, T.: Architecture of the crust and lithosphere beneath the Semail Ophiolite from ambient noise tomography and receiver functions: insights on the tectonic evolution of eastern Arabia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9890,, 2021.

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