EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Structure and Morphology of the Mid-Ocean-Ridge in the Red Sea

Antoine Delaunay1, Abdulkader Alafifi1, Guillaume Baby1, Jakub Fedorik1, Paul Tapponnier2, and Jérôme Dyment3
Antoine Delaunay et al.
  • 1KAUST, Earth and Physical division, ANPERC, Saudi Arabia (
  • 2National Institute of Natural Hazards, Haidiam, Beijing, China
  • 3Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris

This presentation describes the structure and morphologies associated with seafloor spreading in the Red Sea inferred from bathymetric, gravity, magnetic and seismic data. We show that the orientation of the structures is consistent with an Arabia-Nubia Euler pole located within the 95% confidence of Ar-Rajehi et al, (2010) Euler pole and with the tectonic model initially proposed by Girdler (1984). At the Red Sea scale, our model shows that a spreading axis extends along its entire length, even though it is mostly covered by allochthonous Middle Miocene salt and Late Miocene minibasins flowing inward from the margins. In the northern Red Sea, oceanic basement is only exposed through small windows within the salt, forming a series of deeps. The seafloor segments symmetrically bisect the new ocean in the south. Right-stepping transform faults that cluster near Jeddah, Zabargad and Ikhwan Islands offset the ridge axis as spreading is getting more oblique towards the Euler Pole. The northern, central and southern Red Sea segments display a well-developed mid-ocean ridge flanked by landward-dipping volcanic basement, typical of slow spreading ridges. In the northern magma poor spreading segment, mantle exhumation is likely at the transition between continental and oceanic crust. Transpression and transtension along transform faults accounts for the exhumation of the mantle on Zabargad Island as well as the collapse of a pull-apart basin in the Conrad deep.

We propose a new structural model for the Red Sea constrained by the geodetic rules of tectonic plates movements on a sphere. Finally, we discuss the effect of the Danakil microplate on the ridge morphology and show that the Arabia-Nubia-Danakil triple junction is likely located further north than previously described, around 18±0.5°N, where we observe a shift in the ridge axis orientation as well as in the spreading orientation.

How to cite: Delaunay, A., Alafifi, A., Baby, G., Fedorik, J., Tapponnier, P., and Dyment, J.: Structure and Morphology of the Mid-Ocean-Ridge in the Red Sea, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1405,, 2022.