Early Carboniferous (~357 Ma) crust beneath northern Arabia: Tales from Tell Thannoun (southern Syria)

Robert J. Stern, Minghua Ren, Kamal Ali, Hans Jürgen Förster, Abdulrahman Al Safarjalani, Sobhi Nasir, Martin J. Whitehouse, Matthew I. Leybourne, Rolf L. Romer

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Continental crust beneath northern Arabia is deeply buried and poorly known. To advance our knowledge of this crust, we studied 8 xenoliths brought to the surface by Neogene eruptions of Tell Thannoun, S. Syria. The xenolith suite consists of two peridotites, one pyroxenite, four mafic granulites, and one charnockite. The four mafic granulites and charnockite are probably samples of the lower crust, and two mafic granulites gave 2-pyroxene equilibration temperatures of 780-800 °C, which we take to reflect temperatures at the time of formation. Peridotite and pyroxenite gave significantly higher temperatures of ~900 °C, consistent with derivation from the underlying lithospheric mantle. Fe-rich peridotite yielded T ~ 800°C, perhaps representing a cumulate layer in the crust. Three samples spanning the lithologic range of the suite (pyroxenite, mafic granulite, and charnockite) yielded indistinguishable concordant U-Pb zircon ages of ~357 Ma, interpreted to approximate when these magmas crystallized. These igneous rocks are mostly juvenile additions from the mantle, as indicated by low initial 87Sr/86Sr (0.70312 to 0.70510) and strongly positive initial εNd(357 Ma) (+4 to +9.5). Nd model ages range from 0.55 to 0.71 Ga. We were unable to unequivocally infer a tectonic setting where these melts formed: convergent margin, rift, or hotspot. These xenoliths differ from those of Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the south in four principal ways: 1) age, being least 200 Ma younger than the presumed Neoproterozoic (533-1000 Ma) crust beneath Jordan and Saudi Arabia; 2) the presence of charnockite; 3) abundance of Fe-rich mafic and ultramafic lithologies; and 4) the presence of sapphirine. Our studies indicate that northern Arabian plate lithosphere contains a significant proportion of juvenile Late Paleozoic crust, the extent of which remains to be elucidated. This discovery helps explain fission track resetting documented for rocks from Israel and provides insights into the nature of Late Paleozoic (Hercynian) deformation that affected Arabia near the Persian Gulf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume393
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2014

Keywords

  • Geochemistry
  • Hercynian
  • Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes
  • Syria
  • U-Pb zircon
  • Xenolith

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Stern, R. J., Ren, M., Ali, K., Förster, H. J., Al Safarjalani, A., Nasir, S., Whitehouse, M. J., Leybourne, M. I., & Romer, R. L. (2014). Early Carboniferous (~357 Ma) crust beneath northern Arabia: Tales from Tell Thannoun (southern Syria). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 393, 83-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2014.02.043