The Open Geology Journal


ISSN: 1874-2629 ― Volume 9, 2015

An Expanding Arabian-Nubian Shield Geochronologic and Isotopic Dataset: Defining Limits and Confirming the Tectonic Setting of a Neoproterozoic Accretionary Orogen

The Open Geology Journal , 2014, 8: 3-33

Peter R. Johnson

6016 SW Haines Street, Portland, OR 97219, USA.

Electronic publication date 21/2/2014
[DOI: 10.2174/1874262901408010003]

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Abstract: Geologic investigations of the Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS) are supported by a valuable, expanding dataset of geochronologic ages and isotopic analyses. U-Pb zircon SIMS, TIMS, and evaporation data provide robust temporal control on depositional, volcanic, and intrusive events. Nd, Sr, O and, increasingly, Hf isotopic studies provide insights into magma sources and constraints on crustal recycling. Apart from well-established exceptions where Paleoproterozoic and Archean rocks intercalated in the ANS underwent Neoproterozoic reworking, the data elegantly confirm the Neoproterozoic age and juvenile character of the bulk of the ANS. The geochronologic and isotopic data reveal that some ANS sedimentary, volcanic, and igneous rocks contain pre-Neoproterozoic material as xenocrysts and possible glaciogenic clasts, but give no evidence that the ANS is otherwise underlain by any extensive tracts of older crust. Together with structural mapping, the expanding dataset confirms ANS boundaries where long-inferred in the west and suggests the placement of hitherto uncertain boundaries elsewhere. The suggested boundaries imply that the ANS is of a somewhat smaller size than considered in published discussions, which in turn impacts assessment of Neoproterozoic crustal growth rate. The Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS) is an accretionary orogen at the northern end (present-day coordinates) of the East African Orogen. It is one of the largest expanses of mantle-derived, juvenile Neoproterozoic crust on Earth, underlying an area of ~2.7 x 106 km2. Its western boundary is a contact with pre-Neoproterozoic crust belonging to the Saharan Metacraton and Congo-Tanzania Craton. Farther south, the ANS is in contact with the Congo-Tanzania Craton and Mozambique Belt. A southeastern ANS margin is recognized as a contact with pre-Neoproterozoic gneiss belonging to a crustal block referred to as Azania. An eastern ANS margin, long a topic of debate, is suspected beneath Phanerozoic cover in central Arabia, and a northwestern margin with late Mesoproterozoic crust is suspected in Sinai.

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