Incipient seafloor spreading segments: insights from the Red Sea

K. A. Almalki, P. G. Betts, L. Ailleres

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Crustal-scale forward models of marine satellite potential field data suggest that the Red Sea comprises a single segment of ocean crust, which extends along ∼60% of the Red Sea. The segment "tips" are bounded by continental crust, and there is no evidence for transforms at the segment terminations at the south. These observations indicate that ocean crust formation does not necessarily occur in response to wholesale tearing or "unzipping" of continental lithosphere nor is it necessarily controlled by preexisting transform faults. Ocean crust initiation occurs as a series of isolated segments that coalesce as the basin evolves. The recognition of this process in an orthogonal extension setting is comparable to spreading segmentation in modern ocean systems generated at a highly oblique convergent margin, suggesting that oceanic crust segmentation is not controlled by kinematic boundary conditions. The Red Sea may represent a combination of incipient type I and type II passive margins development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2709-2715
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2016


  • forward model
  • ocean crust
  • passive margins
  • Red Sea
  • spreading segment

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