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The Samail subduction zone dilemma: Geochronology of high-pressure rocks from the Saih Hatat window, Oman, reveals juxtaposition of two subduction zones with contrasting thermal histories


Ring,  Uwe
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Glodny,  J.
3.1 Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry, 3.0 Geochemistry, Departments, GFZ Publication Database, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

Hansman,  Reuben
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Scharf,  Andreas
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Mattern,  Frank
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Callegari,  Ivan
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van Hinsbergen,  Douwe J.J.
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Willner,  Arne
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Hong,  Yangbaihe
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Ring, U., Glodny, J., Hansman, R., Scharf, A., Mattern, F., Callegari, I., van Hinsbergen, D. J., Willner, A., Hong, Y. (2024): The Samail subduction zone dilemma: Geochronology of high-pressure rocks from the Saih Hatat window, Oman, reveals juxtaposition of two subduction zones with contrasting thermal histories. - Earth-Science Reviews, 250, 104711.

Cite as: https://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_5025258
The Samail Ophiolite in the Oman Mountains formed at a Cretaceous subduction zone that was part of a wider Neo-Tethys plate-boundary system. The original configuration and evolution of this plate-boundary system is hidden in a structurally and metamorphically complex nappe stack below the Samail Ophiolite. Previous work provided evidence for high-temperature metamorphism high in the nappe pile (in the metamorphic sole of the Samail Ophiolite), and high-pressure metamorphism in the deepest part of the nappe pile (Saih Hatat window), possibly reflecting a downward younging, progressive accretion history at the Samail subduction zone. However, there is evidence that the two subduction-related metamorphic events are disparate, but temporally overlapping during the mid-Cretaceous. We present the first geochronologic dataset across the entire high-pressure nappe stack below the Samail Ophiolite, and the shear zones between the high-pressure nappes. Our 22 new Rbsingle bondSr multimineral isochron ages from the Saih Hatat window, along with independent new field mapping and kinematic reconstructions, constrain the timing and geometry of tectonometamorphic events. Our work indicates the existence of a high-pressure metamorphic event in the nappes below the ophiolite that was synchronous with the high-temperature conditions in the metamorphic sole. We argue that the thermal conditions of these synchronous metamorphic events can only be explained through the existence of two Cretaceous subduction zones/segments that underwent distinctly different thermal histories during subduction infancy. We infer that these two subduction zones initially formed at two perpendicular subduction segments at the Arabian margin and subsequently rotated relative to each other and, as a consequence, their records became juxtaposed: (1) The high-temperature metamorphic sole and the Samail Ophiolite both formed above the structurally higher, outboard, ‘hot’ and rotating Samail subduction zone and, (2) the high-pressure nappes developed within the structurally lower, inboard, ‘cold’ Ruwi subduction zone. We conclude that the formation and evolution of both subduction zones were likely controlled by the density structure of the mafic-rock-rich Arabian rifted margin and outermost Arabian Platform, and the subsequent arrival of the buoyant, largely mafic-rock-free, full-thickness Arabian lithosphere, which eventually halted subduction at the southern margin of Neo-Tethys. Previous article in issue