EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Tectonic model of the Arabian-Nubian Shield and the Saharan Metacraton, Northeast Africa, derived from magnetotelluric data 

Hossam Marzouk1,2, Tarek Arafa-Hamed2, Michael Becken1, Mathew Comeau1, and Abdallah Ibrahim3
Hossam Marzouk et al.
  • 1Institut für Geophysik, Universität Münster, Münster, 48149, Germany
  • 2National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG), 11421 Helwan, Cairo, Egypt
  • 3Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA

Northeast Africa, which today includes the Arabian-Nubian Shield and the Saharan Metacraton, experienced a complex and long history of tectonic events. These include cratonization, which resulted in thickening of the lithosphere and formation of stable cratons, and decratonization, which occurred as a result of the remobilization and reactivation of the tectonic domains through subsequent orogenies, or destruction of the cratonic root during extensional events. One outstanding question is the present-day architecture of the lithosphere across this region, including the location of important tectonic boundaries. Several geophysical investigations have been conducted to study the lithosphere, including density and velocity modeling; however, they have mainly focused on the hydrocarbon-rich areas offshore and onshore close to the western coast of the Gulf of Suez, in addition to some small regional-scale studies.

We present a tectonic model of the Arabian-Nubian Shield and Saharan Metacraton derived, in part, from a 3D electrical resistivity model generated from magnetotelluric measurements acquired along a 700 km long profile across the central part of Egypt. The profile, roughly west-east, consists of 57 measurements, a subset of a larger dataset acquired in the region. The profile crosses the main tectonic boundaries in Egypt: the Arabian Nubian Shield (ANS) in the eastern part, the Nile River in the central part, and the Saharan Metacraton (SMC), in addition to its cratonic remnants (Al-Kufra), in the western part. The profile runs approximately along a line from Dahkla to Kharga, across to Qena, and towards Hurghada on the coast. On average, the measurement spacing is approximately 10 km, although it is denser in some regions (e.g., near ANS) and sparser in others (e.g., near Qena) due to local conditions.

The data were acquired in campaigns carried out in autumn 2019, spring 2020, spring 2021, and spring 2022. The measurements used Metronix data loggers (ADU07e) and Metronix induction coils along with locally developed copper-copper sulphate electrodes to measure the electric field. Most sites were recorded for 2-5 days. The sampling rate used was 512 Hz. Periods up to 1,000 – 5,000 s were recorded. The data are generally considered to be of good quality and had low noise; this is primarily due to the lack of urban electrical noise in most of the survey area.

Dimensionality analyses suggest a 3D character for long-period data, particularly in the ANS area, that requires the use of full 3D inversion to properly describe all aspects of the data. Several sensitivity tests were carried out to validate the robustness of the features in the 3D electrical resistivity model. A comparison of the resistivity model with other geophysical models in this region (including density and velocity models) shows a good correlation for the location of the cratonic boundary, which has a clear resistive electrical signature.         

How to cite: Marzouk, H., Arafa-Hamed, T., Becken, M., Comeau, M., and Ibrahim, A.: Tectonic model of the Arabian-Nubian Shield and the Saharan Metacraton, Northeast Africa, derived from magnetotelluric data , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12197,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file