Disrupted ophiolites occur in linear belts up to 900 km long between microplates that collided during the late Proterozoic to form the Arabian Shield. UPb zircon ages and Pb-isotope data from these ophiolitic rocks help constrain the history of accretion of the Arabian Shield and thereby contribute to the definition of its microplates and terranes. Terranes of the central and western Arabian Shield are generally thought to represent intraoceanic island arcs that range in age from about 900 to 640 Ma; however, a region of the eastern Arabian Shield contains rocks of Early Proterozoic age and may represent an exotic continental fragment entrained between the arc complexes. Ophiolites of the Yanbu suture (northwestern shield), dated by UPb (zircon) and SmNd (mineral isochron) methods, yield model ages of 740-780 Ma. These are among the oldest well-dated rocks in the northwestern Arabian Shield. Ages from the Jabal al Wask complex overlap with ages of adjacent arc rocks. This overlap in age supports geologic and geochemical evidence that the Wask complex represents a fragment of back-arc oceanic lithosphere formed during arc magmatism. Older ages of about 780 Ma for gabbro from the Jabal Ess ophiolite suggest that the ophiolite is either a fragment of fore-arc oceanic crust or oceanic basement on which an arc was built. Gabbro samples from ophiolites of the Bir Umq suture (west-central Arabian Shield) yield zircons with ages of 820-870 Ma and $ ??1250 Ma. The 820-870 Ma dates overlap with ages of the oldest nearby arc rocks; this favors an intra-arc or near-arc paleotectonic setting. The older zircons suggest that middle or early Proterozoic crustal material, possibly derived from the Mozambique belt of Africa, was present during back- or intra-arc magmatism. Plagiogranite from the Bir Tuluhah ophiolitic complex at the nothern end of the 900 km-long Nabitah mobile belt was dated by the zircon UPb method at ??? 830 Ma. This date is in the range of the oldest dated arc rocks along the northern and central parts of the Nabitah suture, but is ??? 100 Ma older than the oldest arc plutons (tonalites) associated with the southern part of the belt. These age relations suggest that the northern part of the Nabitah belt contains an extension of the Bir Umq suture that was transposed parallel to the Nabitah trend during collision of the arc terranes of the northwest Arabian Shield with the Afif plate to the east. Feldspar lead-isotope data from the ophiolites are of three types: (1) lead from the ophiolitic rocks and arc tonalites of the northwestern Shield and ophiolitic rocks of the Nabitah suture is similar to lead in modern mid-ocean ridge basalt, (2) anomalous radiogenic data from the Thurwah ophiolite are from rocks that contain zircons from pre-late Proterozoic continental crust, and (3) feldspar from the Urd ophiolite shows retarded uranogenic lead growth and is related either to an anomalous and perhaps primitive oceanic mantle source, or in an unknown manner to ancient continental mantle or lower crust of the eastern Arabian Shield. ?? 1988.
Additional publication details
Precambrian ophiolites of arabia: geologic settings, UPb geochronology, Pb-isotope characteristics, and implications for continental accretion