IJG  Vol.4 No.10 , December 2013
Continental Flood Basalts and Rifting: Geochemistry of Cenozoic Yemen Volcanic Province

Rift formation is a crucial topic in global tectonics. The Yemen rift-related area is one of the most important provinces, being connected to the rifting processes of the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and Afar Triangle. In this paper, a review of the Yemen volcanic province and its relations with the Red Sea rifting are presented. Tertiary continental extension in Yemen resulted in the extrusion of large volumes of effusive rocks. This magmatism is divided in the Oligo-Miocene Yemen Trap Series (YTS) separated by an unconformity from the Miocene-Recent Yemen Volcanic Series (YVS). Magmas of the YTS were erupted during the synrift phase and correlate with the first stage of sea-floor spreading of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (30 - 15 Ma), whereas the magmas of the YVS were emplaced during the post rift phase (10 - 0 Ma). A continental within plate character is recognized for both the YTS and YVS basalts. The YTS volcanic rocks are contemporaneous with, and geochemically similar to, the Ethiopian rift volcanism, just as the volcanic fields of the YVS are geochemically alike to most of the Saudi Arabian volcanics. YTS and YVS have analogous SiO2 ranges, but YVS tend to have, on average, higher alkalis and MgO contents than YTS. Fractional crystallization processes dominate geochemical variations of both series. Primitive magmas (MgO > 7.0%) are enriched in incompatible elements and LREEs with respect to primitive mantle, but YVS are more enriched than YTS. To first order, the different geochemical patterns agree with different degrees of partial melting of an astenospheric mantle source: 25% - 30% of partial melting for YTS and 10% - 3% for YVS. Secondly, the higher degree of enrichment in incompatible elements of YVS reflects also greater contribution of a lithospheric mantle component in their source region.

Cite this paper
M. Mattash, L. Pinarelli, O. Vaselli, A. Minissale, M. Al-Kadasi, M. Shawki and F. Tassi, "Continental Flood Basalts and Rifting: Geochemistry of Cenozoic Yemen Volcanic Province," International Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 4 No. 10, 2013, pp. 1459-1466. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2013.410143.
[1]   B. Bosworth, P. Huchon and K. McClay, “The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden basins,” Journal of African Earth Science, Vol. 43, No. 1-3, 2005, pp. 334-378.

[2]   M. A. Mattash, L. Pinarelli, O. Vaselli, A. Minissale, M. C. Jaimes-Viera, M. Al-Kadasi, M. N. Shawki and F. Tassi, “Geochemical Evolution of Southern Red Sea and Yemen Flood Volcanism: Evidence for Mantle Heterogeneity,” Arabian Journal of Geosciences, in press.

[3]   M. A. Mattash, “Study of the Cenozoic Volcanic Rocks and Their Associated Intrusive Rock in Yemen in Relation to Rift Development,” PhD Dissertation, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Eotvos L. Univ., Budapest, 1994.

[4]   M. A. Mattash and K. Balogh, “K-Ar Radiometric Age Data on Cenozoic Volcanics and Their Associated Tertiary Intrusions from Yemen,” Acta Mineralogica-Petrographica, Vol. 35, 1994, pp. 83-92.

[5]   Z. R. Beydoun, M. L. As-Saruri, H. El-Nakhal, I. N. Al-Ganad, R. S. Baraba, A. O. Nani and M. H. Al-Aawah, “International Lexicon of Stratigraphy,” Republic of Yemen IUGS Publication, London, Vol. III, 1998, p. 245.

[6]   M. L. Kabesh, A. K. A. Salem and M. H. A. Higazy, “Contributions to the Petrochemistry and Geochemistry of Some Quaternary Basaltic Rocks, Northern and Southern Yemen,” Acta Mineralogica-Petrographica, Vol. 26, 1984, pp. 171-186.

[7]   USGS (United States Geological Survey), “Geology of Dhamar Area,” Internal Report for the Geological Survey of Yemen, 1985, p. 32.

[8]   S. Chiesa, L. Civetta, M. De Fino, L. La Volpe and G. Orsi, “The Yemen Trap Series: Genesis and Evolution of a Continental Flood Basalt Province,” Journal Volcanological and Geothermal Research, Vol. 36, No. 4, 1989, pp. 337-350.

[9]   M. A. Mattash and Gy. Buda, “The Evolution of Yemen Basalts in Relation to Rift Development and the Chemistry of Their Mineral Constituents,” Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece, Vol. 28, No. 2, 1992, pp. 499-514.

[10]   K. G. Cox, I. G. Gass and D. I. J. Mallick, “The Peralkaline Volcanic Suite of Aden and Little Aden, South Arabia,” Journal of Petrology, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1970, pp. 433-461. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/petrology/11.3.433

[11]   J. A. Baker, M. F. Thirlwall and M. A. Menzies, “Sr-NdPb Isotope and Trace Element Evidence for the Crustal Contamination of Plume-Derived Flood Basalts: Oligocene Flood Volcanism in the Western Yemen,” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 60, No. 14, 1996, pp. 2559-2581. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0016-7037(96)00105-6

[12]   J. A. Baker, M. A. Menzies, M. F. Thirlwall and C. G. Macpherson, “Petrogenesis of Quaternary Intraplate Volcanism, Sana’s, Yemen: Implications for Plume-Lithosphere Interaction and Polybaric Melt Hybridization,” Journal of Petrology, Vol. 38, No. 10, 1997, pp. 1359-1390. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/petroj/38.10.1359

[13]   M. T. S. Heikal, E. M. M. Lebda, Y. Orihashi and A. Habtoor, “Petrogenetic Evolution of Basaltic Lavas from Balhaf-Bir Ali Plio-Quaternary Volcanic Field, Arabia Sea, Republic of Yemen,” Arabian Journal of Geosciences.

[14]   J. A. Baker, C. G. Macpherson, M. F. Menzies, M. F. Thirlwall, M. Al-Kadasi and D. P. Mattey, “Resolving Crustal and Mantle Contributions to Continental Flood Volcanism, Yemen; Constraints from Mineral Oxygen Isotope Data,” Journal of Petrology, Vol. 41, No. 12, 2000, pp. 1805-1820.

[15]   Y. Orihashi, K. Nagao, A. Al-Jailani and B. B. Hanan, “Primordial Helium Isotope Signature from Plio-Quarternary Alkaline Basalts in Yemen,” The Island Arc, Vol. 10, 2001, pp.145-157.

[16]   R. G. Coleman and A. V. McGuire, “Magma Systems Related to the Red Sea opening,” Tectonophysics, Vol. 150, No. 1-2, 1988, pp. 77-100.

[17]   M. Menzies, K. Gallagher, A. Yelland and A. J. Hurford, “Volcanic and Non Volcanic Rifted Margins of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden: Crustal Cooling and Margin Evolution in Yemen,” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 61, No. 12, 1997, pp. 2511-2527.

[18]   Y. Orihashi “Evolution of the Afar Mantle Plume,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Hokkaido University, Hokkaido, 1997.

[19]   J. A. Baker, M. A. Menzies, M. F. Thirlwall and C. G. Macpherson, “Petrogenesis of Quaternary Intraplate Volcanism, Sana’s, Yemen: Implications for Plume-Lithosphere Interaction and Polybaric Melt Hybridization,” Journal of Petrology, Vol. 38, 1997, pp. 1359-1390.

[20]   V. E. Camp and M. J. Roobol, “The Arabian Continental Alkali Basalt Province: Part I. Evolution of Harrat Rahat, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, Vol. 101, No. 1, 1989, p. 71.

[21]   V. E. Camp, M. J. Roobol and P. R. Hooper, “The Arabian Continental Alkali Basalt Province: Part II. Evolution of Harrats Khayber, Ithnayn and Kura, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 103, No. 3, 1991, pp. 363-391.

[22]   V. E. Camp, M. J. Roobol and P. R. Hooper, “The Arabian Continental Alkali Basalt Province: Part III. Evolution of Harrat Kishb, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 104, No. 4, 1992, pp. 379-396.

[23]   B. Zanettin, “Evolution of the Ethiopian Volcanic Province,” In: Atti Della Nazionale Dei Lincei Rome, Memorie, Classe Scienze Matematiche Fisiche e Naturali dell’Accademia dei Lincei, series 9, Vol. 1, 1992, pp. 153-181.

[24]   S. S. Sun and W. F. McDonough, “Chemical and Isotopic Systematics of Oceanic Basalts: Implications for Mantle Composition and Processes,” In: A. D. Saunders and M. J. Norry, Eds., Magmatism in the Ocean Basins, Geological Society of London, London, Special Publication, Vol. 42, 1989, pp. 313-345.

[25]   M. Willbold and A. Stracke, “Trace Element Composition of Mantle End-Members: Implications for Recycling of Oceanic and Upper and Lower Continental Crust,” Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2006.

[26]   E. H. Hauri and S. R. Hart, “Rhenium Abundances and Systematics in Oceanic Basalts,” Chemical Geology, Vol. 139, No. 1-4, 1997, pp. 185-205.

[27]   F. Barberi, R. Santacroce and J. Varet, “Chemical Aspects of Rift Magmatism,” In: G. Pálmason, Ed., Continental and Oceanic Rifts, American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, 1982, pp. 223-258.

[28]   D. M. Shaw, “Trace Element Fractionation during Anatexis,” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 34, No. 2, 1970, pp. 237-243.

[29]   G. G. Goles, “Trace Elements in Ultramafic Rocks,” In: P. J. Wyllite, Ed., Ultramafic and Related Rocks, John Wiley, New York, 1967, pp. 352-362.

[30]   W. L. Griffin and V. R. Murthy, “Distribution of K, Rb, Sr, and Ba in Some Minerals Relevant to Basalt Genesis,” Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 33, No. 11, 1969, pp. 1389-1414.

[31]   D. M. Shaw, “Development of the Early Continental Crust, Part I. Use of Trace Element Distribution Coefficient Models for the Proto-Archean Crust,” Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Vol. 9, 1972, pp. 1577-1595.

[32]   F. A. Frey, D. H. Green and S. D. Roy, “Integrated Models of Basalt Petrogenesis: A Study of Quartz Tholeiites to Olivine Melilites in the Southeastern Australia Using Geochemical and Experimental Petrologic Data,” Journal of Petrology, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1978, pp. 463-513.

[33]   J.-G. Schilling, R. H. Kingsley, B. B. Hanan and B. L. McCully, “Nd-Sr-Pb Isotopic Variations along the Gulf of Aden: Evidence for Mantle Plume Continental Lithosphere,” Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 97, No. B7, 1992, pp. 10927-10966.

[34]   A. H. Halliday, D. C. Lee, S. Tommasini, G. R. Davies, C. Paslick, J. G. Fitton and D. E. James, “Incompatible Trace Elements in OIB and MORB and Source Enrichment in the Sub-Oceanic Mantle,” Earth Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 133, No. 3-4, 1995, pp. 379-395.

[35]   R. L. Rudnick and S. Gao, “Composition of the Continental Crust,” Treatise on Geochemistry, Vol. 3, 2003, pp. 1-64.

[36]   R. Altherr, F. Henjes-Kunst and V. Baumann, “Asthenosphere versus Lithosphere as Possible Sources for Basaltic Magmas Erupted during Formation of the Red Sea: Constraints from Sr, Pb and Nd Isotopes,” Earth Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 96, No. 3-4, 1990, pp. 269-286.

[37]   R. Altherr, F. Henjes-Kunst, H. Puchelt and A. Bauman, “Volcanic Activity in the Red Sea Axial Trough-evidence for A Large Mantle Diapir?” Tectonophysics, Vol. 150, No. 1-2, 1988, pp. 121-133.

[38]   J. A. Barrat, B. M. Jahn, J. L. Joron, B. Auvray and H. Hamdi, “Mantle Heterogeneity in Northeastern Africa: Evidence from Nd Isotopic Composition and Hygromagmaphyle Element Geochemistry of Basaltic Rocks from the Gulf of Tadjoura and Southern Red Sea Regions,” Earth Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 101, No. 2-4, 1990, pp. 233-247.

[39]   N. W. Rogers, “The Isotope and Trace Element Geochemistry of Basalts from the Volcanic Islands of the Southern Red Sea,” In: H. M. Prichard, T. Alabaster, N. B. Haris and C. R. Neary, Eds., Magmatic Processes and Plate Tectonics, Geological Society of London, London, Special Publication, Vol. 76, 1993, pp. 455-467.

[40]   Vidal, C. Deniel, P. J. Vellutini, P. Piguet, C. Coulon, J. Vincent and J. Audin, “Changes of Mantle Sources in the Course of a Rift Evolution: The Afar Case,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 18, No. 10, 1991, pp. 1913-1916.

[41]   B. B. Hanan and D. W. Graham, “Lead and Helium Isotope Evidence from Oceanic Basalts for a Common Deep Source of Mantle Plumes,” Science, Vol. 272, No. 5264, 1996, pp. 991-995.