Two main subdivisions of layered rocks are recognized in the southern Arabian Shield south of lat 22? N. These are an older ensimatic-arc complex, which formed 1100-800 m.y. ago, and a younger marginal-arc complex, which formed 800-690 m.y. ago. The older ensimatic-arc complex, located in the southwestern part of the Shield, includes graywacke and mafic to intermediate volcanic rocks of the essentially contemporaneous Baish, Bahah, and Jiddah groups. Although the younger arc complex is also dominantly ensimatic in character, it is also partly superimposed over the older ensimaticarc complex. The superimposed portions of the younger arc complex are represented by the Ablah, Samran, and possibly the Ararat groups. The ensimatic portion of the younger arc group is represented by the Halaban group, which was deposited to the east and northeast of the older ensimatic-arc complex. The Halaban group includes andesitic and dacitic volcanic rocks and associated clastic sedimentary rocks. The layered rocks of both arc complexes are intruded by dioritic (quartz diorite, tonalite, trondhjemite) plutonic rocks.
The southern Shield is also subdivided into a number of structurally bounded, north-trending tectonic belts. Within the older ensimatic complex, three belts are recognized. From west to east, these are the Lith, Bidah, and Tayyah belts. Within these three belts, progressive facies changes indicate a gradation from deep-water facies in the south to shallow-water or-terrestrial facies in the north. The distribution of dioritic batholiths, as well as the distribution of layered-rock facies, suggests a northwest-trending axis for the older ensimatic-arc complex. The younger arc complex is present within six belts, the Makkah source papers. In Fleck and others (1980), the term 'quartz diorite' includes both tonalite and quartz diorite as defined in the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) system of plutonic rock classification (Streckeisen, 1973).
Initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios are not included in the appendix, but all rocks more than 660 m.y. old have initial ratios in the range 0.7021-0.7035, with only two greater than 0.7030. Thus, nothing in the Rb-Sr data suggests involvement of an older continental crust during the evolution of the southern Shield. A lead isotope study of ore minerals and potassium feldspars of the Arabian Shield by Stacey and others (1980) also suggests that no older (Archean to early Proterozoic) evolved continental-type crust underlies the southern Shield. An early summary of mapping (Schmidt and others, 1973) suggests that older sialic basement underlies the late Proterozoic layered rocks in the southern Shield. However, subsequent-mapping and the isotopic studies cited above have established that all of these rocks are of late Proterozoic age and that all rocks of the southern Shield that are more than 660 m.y. old have ensimatic or mantle isotopic characteristics.
Figure 2 shows, with only two exceptions, that rocks more than 800 m.y. old are present west of the boundary separating the Tayyah and Khadra belts. The exceptions are two poorly controlled Rb-Sr ages obtained by Fleck (1980) on two quartz diorite plutons in the Malahah region (appendix 1, localities 26 and 27). Preliminary uranium-thorium zircon data of Stacey now suggest that one of these quartz diorite plutons (locality 26) has an age of approximately 640 m.y. Therefore, we prefer to discount the two dates of Fleck until further information is available.
As noted earlier and as described below, most of the rocks of the southern Arabian Shield have characteristics typical of those formed in the island-arc environment by subduction-related processes. We shall refer to the group of rocks in the western part of the southern Shield, which formed from 1100 to 800 m.y. ago, as the 'older ensimatic-arc complex' and those in the eastern and northwestern parts, which formed from 800 to 690 m.y. ago, as the 'younger marginal-arc compl
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USGS Numbered Series
Late Proterozoic island-arc complexes and tectonic belts in the southern part of the Arabian Shield, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia