A simple Bouguer gravity anomaly map of southwestern Saudi Arabia and an initial interpretation

Open-File Report 83-789




Approximately 2,200 gravity stations on a 10-km2 grid were used to construct a simple Bouguer gravity anomaly map at 1:2,000,000 scale along a 150-km-wide by 850-km-long strip of the Arabian Peninsula from Sanam, southwest of Ar Riyad, through the Farasan Islands and including offshore islands, the coastal plain, and the Hijaz-Asir escarpment from Jiddah to the Yemen border. On the Precambrian Arabian Shield, local positive gravity anomalies are associated with greenstone belts, gneiss domes, and the Najd fault zones. Local negative gravity anomalies correlate with granitic plutonic rocks. A steep gravity gradient of as much as 4 mgal-km-1 marks the continental margin on the coastal plain near the southwestern end of the strip. Bouguer gravity anomaly values range from -10 to +40 mgal southwest of this gradient and from -170 to -100 mgal in a 300-km-wide gravity minimum northeast of the gradient. Farther northeast, the minimum is terminated by a regional gradient of about 0.1 mgal-km-1 that increases toward the Arabian Gulf. The regional gravity anomaly pattern has been modeled by using seismic refraction and Raleigh wave studies, heat-flow measurements, and isostatic considerations as constraints. The model is consistent with the hypothesis of upwelling of hot mantle material beneath the Red Sea and lateral mantle flow beneath the Arabian plate. The model yields best-fitting average crustal densities of 2.80 g-cm-3 (0-20 km depth) and 3.00 g-cm-3 (20-40 km depth) southwest of the Nabitah suture zone and 2.74 g-cm-3 (0-20 km depth) and 2.94 g-cm-3 (20-40 km depth) northeast of the suture zone. The gravity model requires that the crust be about 20 km thick at the continental margin and that the lower crust between the margin and Bishah (lat 20? N., long 42.5? E.) be somewhat denser than the lower crust to the northeast. Detailed correlations between 1:250,000- and 1:500,000-scale geologic maps and the gravity anomaly map suggest that the greenstone belts associated with gravity highs contain a large proportion of gabbroic and dioritic intrusive rocks and that the bulk density of the upper crust associated with some of the batholithic complexes has been lowered by the large-scale intrusion of granitic material at depth, as well as by that exposed at the surface. A comparison of known base and precious metals occurrences with the Bouguer gravity anomaly field shows, in some cases, a correlation between such occurrences and the features of the gravity anomaly map. Several areas were identified between known mineral occurrences along gravity-defined structures that may contain mineral deposits if the lithologic environment is favorable.

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A simple Bouguer gravity anomaly map of southwestern Saudi Arabia and an initial interpretation
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
iii, 93 p. :maps ;28 cm.