Reconnaissance geology of the Wadi Wassat quadrangle, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Open-File Report 70-248




The Wadi Wassat quadrangle covers an area of 2926 sq km in the southwestern part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The west half of the quadrangle is underlain by crystalline rocks of the Arabian Shield, but in the eastern half of the quadrangle the Precambrian rocks are covered by Permian or older sandstone which is succeeded farther east by aeolian sands of Ar Rub' al Khali. The Shield consists of a sequence of unmetamorphosed to metamorphosed interlayered volcanic and sedimentary rocks intruded by igneous rocks ranging in composition from gabbro to syenite and in age from Precambrian to Cambrian(?). The volcanic rocks range in composition from andesite to rhyolite and in texture from agglomerate to thick, massive flows and lithic tuff. They are interlayered with conglomerate, fine-grained graywacke sandstone, calcareous graywacke, siltstone, tuffaceous laminated shale, pyritiferous sediment, carbonaceous shale, limestone, and dolomite. Most clastic debris is derived from andesite. In places the rocks are polymetamorphosed; elsewhere they are unmetamorphosed. The rocks on which this volcano-sedimentary eugeosynclinal sequence was deposited are not exposed in the area of the quadrangle. Reglonal dynamothermal metamorphism was .the dominant process affecting the volcanic-sedimentary rocks in the western part of the quadrangle. In the eastern part of the Precambrian area the chief metamorphic effect results from contact action along the walls of intrusive plutons. The oldest igneous rock to intrude the volcanic-sedimentary sequence, after the dikes and sills of the sequence itself, is granite gneiss and gneissic granodiorite. The gneiss is sparsely present in the quadrangle, but northwest of the quadrangle it forms an immense batholith which is one of the major geologic features of southwestern Arabia. However, the most common intrusive rocks of the quadrangle are a magnetic differentiation sequence that ranges in composition from gabbro and diorite to granite, rhyolite, and syenite. The siliceous members of the differentiation sequence commonly contain aluminous pyroxene or amphibole, and to the sequence the name peralkalic magma series has been given. Plutonic rocks of the series are widely intruded by hypabyssal rocks of the series. In most places, the older hypabyssal rocks tend to form interior dikes in the plutonic rocks, and the younger hypabyssal rocks commonly form the exterior dike swarms outside the plutonic rocks of the magma series. Many exterior dike swarms are concentrated in roof pendants of volcano-sedimentary rocks over the plutonic members of the magma series. Isotopic ages of rocks in the peralkalic magma series range from 598 +/-24 m.y. to 509 +/-15 m.y. by K/Ar and Rb/Sr methods. A profound angular unconformity exists between the Precambrian and Cambrian(?) crystalline rocks and the Permian or older sandstone which laps onto the Shield from the east and south. This sandstone, is reddish-brown, yellow, tan, and white called Wajid Sandstone, crossbedded sandstone with ferruginous cement and concretions in some layers. Locally, the rocks underlying the Wajid Sandstone are deeply weathered. Poorly sorted alluvial sand and gravel mantle the wadi floors. In the northeastern and southwestern parts of the quadrangle well-sorted aeolian sand is common. The volcanic and sedimentary rocks of the quadrangle are part of the east limb of an immense synclinorium(?) that closes south-westward around a batholitic core of gneissic granite and granodiorite. These layered rocks were isoclinally folded along northerly and north-northeasterly trending axes prior to the intrusion of the peralkalic magma series. During intrusion, the layered rocks were again folded as they were pushed aside, and major old regional northerly faults were reactivated with persistent left-lateral displacement. Reconnaissance geochemical sampling disclosed several notable groupings of threshold and anomalous elements with spe

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Reconnaissance geology of the Wadi Wassat quadrangle, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey,
67 p. :maps ;28 cm.