Prior to the formation of the Red Sea the northeastern Afro/Arabian continent had low relief and was largely below sea level from the Late Cretaceous to the early Oligocene. The events leading to the formation of the Red Sea followed the sequence (1) alkaline volcanism and rifting beginning about 30-32 Ma affecting a narrow linear zone in the continent, (2) rotational block faulting and detachment faulting, well underway by 25 Ma, (3) gabbro and diorite magmatism, andesite to rhyolite volcanism, and fine-grained nonmarine sedimentation in the rift between 20 and 25 Ma, (4) fine-grained marine sedimentation in the rift as the early shelves started to subside in the middle Miocene, and (5) uplift of the adjacent continents (about 3 km) and subsidence of the shelves (about 4 km) between 13.8 and 5 Ma. The youth of the uplift is suggested by 44 fission track dates on apatites from rocks of the Proterozoic Arabian Shield that range in age from 13.8 to 568 Ma. The youngest of these ages, coupled with the present high relief along the Arabian escarpment and published heat flow measurements, indicate that 2.5-4 km uplift has occurred in the last 13.8 m.y. -from Authors
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The timing of uplift, volcanism, and rifting peripheral to the Red Sea: a case for passive rifting?