Ocean crust accretion along a high-temperature detachment fault in the Oman ophiolite: A structural and petrological study of the Bahla massif

The Bahia massif exposes the lower crustal section of the Oman ophiolite located close to the thrust front of the Semail nappe. It is affected by intense faulting previously attributed to tectonic events that dismembered a classical ophiolitic sequence during or after the obduction. Here we show that most of this complexity is primary, inherited from syn-accretion tectonics. The crustal section is exposed in a 15 by 8 km tectonic enclave surrounded by mantle peridotite. Its northern boundary corresponds to a major, steeply dipping normal fault striking WNWESE, at low angle to the paleo-ridge axis. Movement along this fault was accommodated by intense plastic deformation of the crustal cumulates and adjacent mantle peridotites at temperature conditions >= 900 degrees C. The thickness of the deformed zone reaches several hundred meters. The flattening of the cumulate layering away from the fault is correlated to a decrease in the deformation intensity. Undeformed olivine-gabbro dykes crosscut this "tectonic Moho" indicating that the tilting occurred before the end of the igneous activity. To the southwest, the crustal enclave is bounded by a NW-SE trending transtentional shear zone that was active in the amphibolite to greenschist facies and was intensely injected by syn- to post-kinematic gabbronorite and tonalite/ trondhjemite dykes and plugs. The age of one felsic sample (95.214 +/- 0.032 Ma, high-precision U-Pb zircon dating) is within error of the age of intrusive felsic intrusions into the mantle and lowermost axial crust from the length of the Oman ophiolite, which slightly post-dates the mean crystallization age of the Semail crust (V1 magmatism; 96.1-95.6 Ma). Other contacts are low temperature features including cataclastic faults, serpentine-carbonate breccias and flat-lying decollements. Parent melts of the Bahia crustal cumulates were more siliceous and hydrous, i.e. more andesitic, than typical mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) as deduced from the frequent occurrence of early crystallizing orthopyroxene (opx) and late crystallizing amphibole. Some facies such as cumulate harzburgite and opx-troctolite have not been documented elsewhere in the Oman ophiolite and may be specific to the tectonic context in which the frontal massifs accreted. The chemical composition of the lower crustal cumulates can be accounted for by the hybridization in various proportions between MORB and a primitive andesite from a depleted source whose origin can be looked for in melts from a nascent subduction zone or from high temperature hydrothermal processes. The structure of the Bahia lower crustal section is reminiscent of the plutonic growth faults documented along present-day slow-spreading centres in both mid-ocean ridge and back arc settings. The distinctive characteristics of the Moho and lower crustal section in the Bahia massif are tentatively related to their position at the leading edge of the ophiolite, i.e. closer to the Arabian continental margin at the time of accretion than the massifs from the internal part of the ophiolite that have a more continuous and less deformed lower crust. It indicates that the style of crustal accretion may have changed during the opening of the oceanic basin from which the Oman ophiolite issued.


Oman, Ophiolite, Oceanic crust, Detachment faults, Plutonic growth faults

Full Text

Publisher's official version
188 Mo
Supplementary Table 1:. Sample location, petrography, EPMA data
-128 Ko
Supplementary Table 2.
-49 Ko
Author's final draft
452 Mo
How to cite
Abily Benedicte, Ceuleneer Georges, Rospabé Mathieu, Kaczmarek Mary-Alix, Python Marie, Gregoire Michel, Benoit Mathieu, Rioux Matthew (2022). Ocean crust accretion along a high-temperature detachment fault in the Oman ophiolite: A structural and petrological study of the Bahla massif. Tectonophysics. 822. 229160 (18p.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2021.229160, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00773/88509/

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