40Ar/39Ar geochronology of the Neogene-Quaternary Harrat Al-Madinah intercontinental volcanic field, Saudi Arabia: Implications for duration and migration of volcanic activity

M. R. Moufti, A. M. Moghazi, K. A. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

New 40Ar/39Ar ages, based on incremental heating techniques for groundmass separates of 25 samples, are presented for the Harrat Al-Madinah volcanic field, part of Harrat Rahat in the north western part of the Arabian plate. This area is an active volcanic field characterized by the occurrence of two historical eruptions approximately in 641 and 1256AD. Field investigations of the main volcanic landforms indicate dominantly monogenetic strombolian eruptions, in addition to local more explosive eruptions. The lavas consist mainly of olivine basalt and hawaiite flows with minor evolved rocks of mugearite, benmoreite, and trachyte that occur mainly as domes, tuff cones and occasionally as lava flows. Previous K/Ar dating shows that the Harrat Al-Madinah lava flows and associated domes comprise seven units spanning an age range of ca. 1.7Ma-Recent. The new 40Ar/39Ar age determinations confirm, to a great extent, the previously obtained K/Ar ages in the sense that no major systematic biases were found in the general stratigraphy of the different flow units. However, the 40Ar/39Ar plateau ages show that volcanism in this area began in the Neogene (∼10Ma) and continued to Recent, with the most voluminous eruptions occurring in the Quaternary. Neogene volcanism occurred in at least three pulses around 10, 5 and 2Ma, whereas Quaternary volcanism produced at least seven units reflecting lava flow emplacement in the time period of 1.90Ma-Recent. Thus, the whole duration of volcanic activity in the Harrat Al-Madinah (10Ma-Recent) appears much longer than that previously identified. The longevity of volcanism in the same part of the moving Arabian plate and absence of evidence for uni-directional migration of volcanic activity indicate that there is no fixed plume beneath this region. The NNW-trending distribution of the volcanic vents is parallel to the Red Sea, and suggests their origin is related to periodic extensional episodes along the reactivated Red Sea fault system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-268
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 30 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Al-Madinah
  • Ar/Ar geochronology
  • Harrat Rahat
  • Intraplate volcanism
  • Quaternary flood basalts
  • Saudi Arabia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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