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Red Sea rift-related Quseir basalts, central Eastern Desert, Egypt: Petrogenesis and tectonic processes


Mineral and whole-rock chemistry of Red Sea rift-related Tertiary basalts from south Quseir city, central Eastern Desert of Egypt is presented to investigate their petrogenesis and relationship to tectonic processes. The south Quseir basalts (SQB) are classified as high-Ti (TiO2 >2 wt.%) subalkaline transitional lava emplaced in an anorogenic tectonic setting. Their Mg# varies from 48 to 53 indicating the evolved nature of the SQB. Pearce element ratios suggest that the SQB magmas evolved via fractional crystallization of olivine + clinopyroxene ± plagioclase, but the absence of Eu anomalies argues against significant plagioclase fractionation. Clinopyroxene compositions provide evidence for polybaric fractionation of the parental mafic magmas. Estimated temperatures of crystallization are 1015 to 1207 °C for clinopyroxene and 1076 to 1155 °C for plagioclase. These values are interpreted to result from early stage crystallization of clinopyroxene followed by concurrent crystallization of clinopyroxene and plagioclase. The incompatible trace element signatures of the SQB (La/Ba = 0.08–0.10 and La/Nb = 0.89–1.04) are comparable to those of ocean island basalts (OIB) generated from an asthenospheric mantle source unaffected by subduction components. Modeling calculations indicate that the SQB primary magmas were derived from ~4–5% partial melting of a garnet-bearing lherzolite mantle source. The NE Egyptian basaltic volcanism is spatially and temporally related to Red Sea rifting and to the local E–W striking faults, confirming a relationship to tectonic activity. Our results suggest that the extensional regime associated with Red Sea rifting controlled the generation of the Egyptian basalts, likely as a result of passive upwelling of asthenospheric mantle.

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E.S. Farahat would like to express his gratitude to Prof. G. Hoinkes and the staff member of the Institute of Earth Science (Mineralogy and Petrology), Graz University, for their hospitality and kindness in making available some of the analytical facilities at the Institute. Critical comments and constructive reviews by M. Brenna and an anonymous referee and by editor, Paul J. Wallace, substantially improved an early version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Shehata Ali.

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Farahat, E.S., Ali, S. & Hauzenberger, C. Red Sea rift-related Quseir basalts, central Eastern Desert, Egypt: Petrogenesis and tectonic processes. Bull Volcanol 79, 9 (2017).

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  • South Quseir
  • Basalt
  • Asthenospheric mantle
  • Red Sea rifting
  • Egypt