Tectono-Stratigraphic Evolution of the Foreland Fold-and-Thrust Belt of the United Arab Emirates

Ahmed Jamal Abdelmaksoud, M. Y. Ali, M. P. Searle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The subsurface and surface structural geometries of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fold-and-thrust belt (FTB) and foreland basins are interpreted from seismic, well data, and surface geology. Twelve horizons ranging in age from Miocene to Lower Jurassic were interpreted and mapped. Additionally, we outlined subsurface extent of Sumeini and Hawasina allochthonous nappes. The tectonic subsidence curves suggest that the final major passive margin rifting event occurred in the early Aalenian and lasted till Oxfordian. Loading of the Semail ophiolite thrust sheet and accompanying allochthonous thrust sheets resulted in uplift at ca. 95 Ma and rapid subsidence at ca. 83 Ma, indicating the transition of the Arabian margin from a rifted passive margin to a foreland basin. The region witnessed an accelerated subsidence during the late Oligocene-Miocene, attributed to the initial collision of the Central Iran and Arabian plates. The Permian-Jurassic NW-SE oriented rift faults were reactivated as thrust faults during the Late Cretaceous ophiolite obduction and late Oligocene-Miocene continental collision. Two different tectonic regimes are identified in the FTB. The northern regime is characterized by major inversion of the rift faults with up to 3,700 m throw, whereas the southern regime has a major pop-up structure with possible basement origin. Four major west-verging and east-dipping thrusts, which cross the northern area, form fault-propagation folds and dissect the entire stratigraphy. Moreover, the Hawasina décollement, together with the inverted basement structures formed the Jabal Hafit anticline as a backthrust structure.

Original languageBritish English
Article numbere2022TC007470
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • fold-and-thrust belt
  • foreland basin
  • Oman Mountains
  • stratigraphy
  • United Arab Emirates


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