Tracking the India-Arabia Transform Plate Boundary during Paleogene Times.

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Mathieu Rodriguez1, Philippe Huchon2, Nicolas R A Chamot-Rooke3, Marc Fournier4 and Matthias Delescluse1, (1)Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris, Paris, France, (2)University Pierre and Marie Curie Paris VI, istep, Paris, France, (3)Ecole Normale Superieure/Cnrs, Paris, France, (4)University Pierre and Marie Curie Paris VI, Paris, France
The Zagros and Himalaya mountain belts are the most prominent reliefs built by continental collision. They respectively result from Arabia and India collision with Eurasia. Convergence motions at mountain belts induced most of plate reorganization events in the Indian Ocean during the Cenozoic. Although critical for paleogeographic reconstructions, the way relative motion between Arabia and India was accommodated prior to the formation of the Sheba ridge in the Gulf of Aden remains poorly understood. The India-Arabia plate-boundary belongs to the category of long-lived (~90-Ma) oceanic transform faults, thus providing a good case study to investigate the role of major kinematic events over the structural evolution of a long-lived transform system.

A seismic dataset crossing the Owen Fracture Zone, the Owen Basin, and the Oman Margin was acquired to track the past locations of the India-Arabia plate boundary. We highlight the composite age of the Owen Basin basement, made of Paleocene oceanic crust drilled on its eastern part, and composed of pre-Maastrichtian continental crust overlaid by Early Paleocene ophiolites on its western side. A major transform fault system crossing the Owen Basin juxtaposed these two slivers of lithosphere of different ages, and controlled the uplift of marginal ridges along the Oman Margin. This transform system deactivated ~40 Ma ago, coeval with the onset of ultra-slow spreading at the Carlsberg Ridge. The transform boundary then jumped to the edge of the present-day Owen Ridge during the Late Eocene-Oligocene period, before seafloor spreading began at the Sheba Ridge. This migration of the plate boundary involved the transfer of a part of the Indian oceanic lithosphere accreted at the Carlsberg Ridge to the Arabian plate. The episode of plate transfer at the India-Arabia plate boundary during the Late Eocene-Oligocene interval is synchronous with a global plate reorganization event corresponding to geological events at the Zagros and Himalaya belts. The Owen Ridge uplifted later, in Late Miocene times, and is unrelated to any major migration of the India-Arabia boundary.