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Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

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Journal of African Earth Sciences

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Thrusting and multiple folding in the Neoproterozoic Pan-African basement

of Wadi Hodein area, south Eastern Desert, Egypt
M.M. Abdeen a,b, M.F. Sadek a, R.O. Greiling c,*

National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences, Cairo, Egypt
Geography Department, Kuwait University, Kuwait
Universitt Karlsruhe (TH), Geologisches Institut, Karlsruhe, FR, Germany

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 4 June 2007
Received in revised form 24 February 2008
Accepted 5 March 2008
Available online 16 March 2008
Pan-African tectonics
Najd fault system

a b s t r a c t
Detailed eld mapping and structural studies of the area around the mouth of Wadi Hodein, some 20 km
west of Shalatein at the Red Sea coast in the south Eastern Desert of Egypt, revealed four phases of structural deformation (D1D4) affecting the Neoproterozoic Pan-African basement rocks. D1 is related to arc
arc collision and is represented by ENEWSW oriented megascopic upright open folds associated with
low angle thrusts and mesoscopic tight, overturned and recumbent F1 folds. Kinematic indicators indicate thrusting towards the SSE. D2 is represented by NNWSSE oriented megascopic and mesoscopic
folds, which are tight, verge towards the WSW and display a left-stepping en echelon pattern. D3 includes
major NNWSSE trending sinistral shear zones that show subordinate reverse fault components and dip
steeply towards the ENE. These sinistral shear zones are comparable with the Najd Fault System, as they
display a similar sense of movement and relationships to earlier structures. Therefore, they are interpreted to be the continuation of the Najd Shear System in southern Egypt. D2 and D3 are related to accretion of east and west Gondwana. D4 is represented by EW oriented dextral faults with left-stepping
segments. The rst three deformation events are in agreement with the general evolutionary model
for the East African Orogen in the ArabianNubian Shield that begins with NNWSSE shortening, followed by ENEWSW compression and subsequent deformation by the NNWSSE striking Najd Fault System. The EW dextral faults may be the conjugate shear fractures to the D3 NNWSSE oriented sinistral
wrench faults or are related to a subsequent event, D4. NWSE oriented gold-bearing quartz veins originated during D1 and were subsequently deformed by D2D4 events.
2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Although there has been progress in the understanding of the
general tectonic evolution of the ArabianNubian Shield (ANS)
controversies remain to be settled with regard to the locations of
sutures, structure of collision zones, polarity of subduction zones,
post-collisional deformation and timing of events. These are
important considerations for research in tectonics and mineral
The ANS is dominated by juvenile continental crust that was
formed by differentiation of mantle melts largely without reworking of pre-existing continental crust during the Neoproterozoic
Pan-African orogeny through accretion of ensimatic and ensialic
magmatic arcs (Harris et al., 1984; Stoeser and Camp, 1985; Krner
et al., 1987; Stern 1994; Stein and Goldstein, 1996; Johnson and
Woldehaimanot 2003). Recent Nd isotopic analyses combined with
data on zircon inheritance and review of published isotopic studies
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +49 721 6082141; fax: +49 721 6082138.
E-mail address: (R.O. Greiling).
1464-343X/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

by Hargrove et al. (2006) indicated that pre-Neoproterozoic crust

had a greater inuence on the oceanic portion of the ANS than
was appreciated.
The Precambrian basement of the Eastern Desert of Egypt is part
of the Red Sea Mountains and represents the northwestern part of
the ANS. This part of the shield is dominated by Neoproterozoic
arc-volcanics and volcaniclastic successions together with ophiolitic mlange and shelf and molasse sediments. The whole succession is metamorphosed to greenschist or amphibolite facies (Bakor
et al., 1976; Shanti and Roobol, 1979; Camp, 1984; Stern and
Hedge, 1985) and is subsequently intruded by late- to post-tectonic acidic to basic plutonic and volcanic rocks. High-grade rocks
(e.g. schists, gneisses and migmatites) are exposed in several tectonic windows forming domal structures or swells. Earlier structural models emphasized the predominance of low angle thrusts
(e.g. Shackleton et al., 1980; Ries et al., 1983; El Ramly et al.,
1984; Shackleton, 1986; Bennett and Mosley, 1987; Greiling
et al., 1994; Fowler and El Kalioubi, 2004). The directions of nappe
transport reported from the Pan-African basement of the Egyptian
Eastern Desert vary from top towards NE (e.g. El Bayoumi and


M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

Greiling, 1984), top to the NW (e.g. Ries et al., 1983; Greiling,

1987), top to the SE (e.g. Kamal El Din et al., 1992), and top to
the SW (e.g. Abdeen et al., 2002; Abdelsalam et al., 2003a). It has
been established that wrenching along NWSE trending faults, representing a continuation of the Najd Fault System into the Eastern
Desert of Egypt, plays a major role in the deformation (e.g. Stern,
1985; Sultan et al., 1988; Wallbrecher et al., 1993; Fritz et al.,
1996; de Wall et al., 2001; Abdeen and Greiling 2005).
Comprehensive structural studies in the basement areas west of
Quseir established time relationships between stages of Pan-African folding and thrusting and subsequent Najd wrench faulting
(Abdeen et al., 1992; Fowler and El Kalioubi, 2004; Greiling et al.,

1994; Fritz et al., 1996; Abdeen and Warr, 1998; Abdeen and Greiling, 2005). This relationship has not yet been adequately established in the more southerly parts of the Eastern Desert of Egypt.
Therefore, this study presents the results of regional scale mapping
(1:100,000) of the basement structures in the Wadi Hodein area in
the southern part of the Eastern Desert of Egypt. The results include a structural evolutionary model, tectonic analysis, and significant information to assist future mineral exploration.
The Wadi Hodein study area lies some 20 km west of the Red
Sea coastal village of Shalatein in the south Eastern Desert, between latitudes 2304 and 2318N and longitudes 3510 and
3525E (Fig. 1). It covers an area of about 720 km2 and is drained

Fig. 1. Geological structural map and cross-sections of the Wadi Hodein area. Inset is a tectonic sketch map of SE Egypt and NE Sudan, showing the location of the study area.

M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

by three NNWSSE oriented main wadis, namely, from east to

west, Wadi Rahaba, Wadi Hodein and Wadi Khashab. Geological
and structural mapping were based on eld work supported by
data interpretation of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) ratio image
(5/1, 5/7, 5/4 * 3/4 in blue, green and red, respectively) which
was enhanced specically to reveal the lithological units and structural features.
2. Regional tectonic setting
The Precambrian basement of the Eastern Desert of Egypt is a
part of the ArabianNubian Shield (ANS). The ANS passes southwards into the Mozambique Belt of eastern Africa. These two mobile belts are collectively called the East African Orogen (Stern,
1994) that was deformed during the orogenic collision between
East and West Gondwana, after the closure of the Mozambique
Ocean during Neoproterozoic time (800600 Ma). The ANS is dominated by juvenile crust that formed during this time by growth
and accretion of intra-oceanic arcs and/or oceanic plateaus (Krner
et al., 1987; Harris et al., 1993; Stern, 1994; Stein and Goldstein,
1996; Abdelsalam et al., 2003b; Johnson and Woldehaimanot,
2003) prior to the collision between East and West Gondwana
(e.g. Stern, 1994; Abdelsalam et al., 2003b). The squeezing of the
ANS between East and West Gondwana produced post-accretionary structures in the form of N-trending shortening zones, such
as the Hamisana zone, and NW-trending strike-slip faults, such
as the Najd fault system (Burke and Sengr, 1986; Berhe, 1990;
Stern, 1994; Abdelsalam, 1994; Abdelsalam and Stern, 1996;
Abdelsalam et al., 2003b), and subordinate NESW trending ones
(e.g. Stern et al., 1989; de Wall et al., 2001)).
The Precambrian rocks of the Eastern Desert of Egypt form two
distinctive tectonostratigraphic levels. The lower level comprises
high-grade metamorphic gneisses, migmatites, schists and
amphibolites and is commonly referred to as lower tier (e.g. Bennett and Mosley, 1987) and the upper level comprises low-grade
metamorphic ophiolitic and island-arc assemblages and is commonly referred to as Pan-African nappes (e.g. El-Gaby et al.,
1988; Greiling et al., 1994; Abdeen, 2003).
Two essential models for the evolution of the Eastern Desert of
Egypt have been proposed. The rst was established based on a
geosynclinal concept (e.g. Akaad et al., 1960; El Shazly, 1964; El
Ramly, 1972; Akaad and Noweir, 1980). It considered that the
shield had evolved as intracratonic geosyncline with a basement
of older sialic material. The second model is based on the theory
of the plate tectonics with several variations. These variations include evolution through formation of successive island arcs, which
were swept and welded together (e.g. Greenwood et al., 1976;
Gass, 1977, 1981; Abdelsalam et al., 2003b), evolution through
opening and closure of a limited ocean basin (e.g. Garson and Sha-


laby, 1976; Dixon, 1979) or development of rift ocean basins and

subsequent subduction-related phenomena (e.g. Church, 1979,
1981; Engel et al., 1980). Alternative plate tectonic models consider an evolution through coeval swelling of infrastructure and
thrust movement of suprastructure similar to Phanerozoic continental margin orogenic belts such as the CordilleranAndean in
the western Americas (e.g. Hashad and Hassan, 1979; Hassan and
Hashad, 1990; El Bayoumi, 1980; El-Gaby et al., 1988) and that
the high-grade cores of metamorphic domes represent an infrastructure pertaining to pre-Pan-African continental crust. On the
other hand, high grade metamorphic core complexes were attributed to the late Pan-African orogenic extension that exposed deeper levels of the crust (e.g. Fritz et al., 1996; Bregar et al., 2002).
3. Geological setting
The geology of the Wadi Hodein area has been previously investigated by Ghanem (1972), Hassan et al. (1996), Sadek et al. (1996),
El Amawy et al. (2000a, 2000b), Hassan (2003), Sadek et al. (2003),
Sadek (2004), Sadek and Hassan (2004). It has been included within other more extensive mapping projects (e.g. Hunting Geology
and Geophysics, 1967; El Ramly, 1972; Conoco, 1987; Geological
Survey of Egypt, 1992).
The Wadi Hodein area is occupied by late Proterozoic metamorphic and intrusive rocks (Fig. 1). The metamorphic rocks comprise
ophiolitic melange rocks and island-arc metavolcanics. They are intruded by syn-late tectonic intrusions including gabbro-diorite,
tonalite-granodiorite (G1), monzogranite and alkali feldspar granites (G2).
3.1. Ophiolitic melange
The ophiolitic melange rocks form two discontinuous NNWSSE
oriented belts ranging from 10 to 20 km in length, one is bordering
the southwestern part Wadi Rahaba and the other is bordering the
northwestern part of Wadi Hodein (Fig. 1). These rocks are mainly
represented by serpentinites, talc-carbonate rocks (Gabal Sarir)
and talc-antigorite-ankerite schists. In cross sections they are
found to form a low dipping sheet in sheared contact with metavolcanics above and below them (Fig. 2). Irregular elongated slices
of sheared serpentinite-talc-carbonate rocks of several tens of meters are also tectonically emplaced within the island-arc schistose
metavolcanic rocks.
3.2. Island-arc metavolcanics and associated rocks
The island-arc metavolcanics are the dominant rocks encountered in the study area, and form a terrain of medium to high relief
mountains and hills. They comprise different schistose varieties

Fig. 2. Thrust sheet of Sarir ophiolitic serpentinite-talc-carbonate rocks (UM) thrusted over the schistose island arc metavolcanics (MV). Photo looking north.


M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

are themselves intruded by monzogranites and alkali feldspar

granites (G2) as well as basic and acidic dykes. The late tectonic
granites in the investigated area are related to G2 granites of Hussein et al. (1982).
Dykes of varied composition and trends dissecting the ophiolites, metavolcanics and plutons are relatively common, especially
those of EW and NESW trends. Generally, these dykes include
basic, porphyritic, felsic, and granitic types. Gold-bearing quartz
veins have been recorded dissecting the Wadi Beida metavolcanics
(Kontny et al., 1999; Nano et al., 2002).
4. Structural setting

Fig. 3. Stereographic projection (lower hemisphere) of stretching lineations, showing a preferred NNWSSE orientation parallel with the transport direction of early
thrusts associated with the D1 deformational event.

The investigation of the structural evolution of the Wadi Hodein

area revealed four deformational events D1D4. In the following
sections detailed descriptions of these events and their related
structures are presented.
4.1. Deformational event D1

with compositionally gradational contacts. They range in composition from basic-intermediate to acidic and are accompanied by
equivalent volcaniclastics.
Northeast of Wadi Hodein these metavolcanics are represented
by a NNWSSE trending belt of strongly foliated, folded and
sheared meta-andesite (chlorite epidote schists), locally associated
with intermediate to acidic volcano-sedimentary schists of metadacite and metarhyodacite composition. They form a wide belt
(5 km) extending NWSE from Gabal Sarir to the west of Gabal
Harhagit (Fig. 1). These rocks enclose elongated sheared slabs
(shear pods) of several tens of meters of the serpentinite, talc-carbonate rocks. These slabs are bounded by well-dened shear zones
whose trends are concordant with the metavolcanic foliation
trends. West of Gabal Harhagit, the metavolcanics are associated
with volcaniclastic rocks enclosing strained elongated metavolcanic pebbles with variable sizes.
Southwards, the NWSE Beida-Khashab metavolcanic belt
forms the highest peaks and mountainous exposures in the
mapped area (Fig. 1). These rocks were mapped as island-arc metavolcanics (Geological Survey of Egypt, 1992; Kontny et al., 1999;
Nano et al., 2002; Hassan, 2003; Sadek et al., 1996, 2003; Sadek,
2004). On the other hand, they were mapped by El Amawy et al.
(2000a) as ophiolitic assemblage made up of ultramacs, metagabbros, pillow lavas and chert.
The metavolcanics are strongly sheared volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of andesite, basaltic andesite, metadacite, and metarhyolite composition, pertaining to an island-arc assemblage.
They host some structurally controlled mineralized alteration zones
with gold-bearing ferruginous quartz veins (Kontny, et al., 1999;
Nano et al., 2002). Weakly deformed and rather massive unaltered
metapyroclastic rocks occupy the central part of Wadi Hodein.
3.3. Intrusions
Syntectonic intrusions exposed in the study area include gabbro-diorite and granitoids (G1). There are also late tectonic intrusions of granites (G2) (Fig. 1). The syntectonic gabbros are
encountered in the western part of the mapped area where they intrude the Beida-Khashab metavolcanics. They range in composition from diorite to hornblende gabbro to pyroxene gabbro. The
exposed syntectonic granitoids are subduction-related granitoids
(G1, Hussein et al., 1982). These rocks are encountered at the
southern, western, and the northeastern parts of the mapped area
where they form low relief and weakly foliated outcrops. These
rocks range in composition from tonalite to granodiorite. They intrude the island-arc metavolcanics and the gabbro-diorite. They

The D1 deformational event is the rst to affect the study area.

It is responsible for the penetrative S1 schistosity with L1 stretching lineation in the metamorphic rocks (including serpentinites
and metavolcanics). NESW oriented mesoscopic folds with SE vergence dominate in these rocks. A major thrust at the base of the
ophiolitic melange rocks overlying the island-arc metavolcanics
is also D1 in origin (Fig. 2). The S1 foliation appears to be always
parallel to the bedding S0. Clear evidence for this relation is found
in the Beida-Khashab volcano-sedimentary rocks. The pattern of
the poles to S1 schistosity will be considered in Section 5.
Shear zones concordant with the S1 foliation can be followed
for 30 km from the southeastern to the northwestern corners of
the study area east of Wadi Hodein. The shear zones dip 2050
in the NE, NW and SE directions and their thrust surfaces are undulating and their mapped traces are rather sinuous. The variable
dips and dip directions are due to two phases of later folding affecting the shears and S1 foliations. The NNWSSE orientation of L1
and kinematic indicators (e.g. asymmetrical deformed pebbles) together with the vergence of the mesoscopic folds indicate a SSE directed nappe transport direction.
4.2. Deformational event D2
The D2 event is the most signicant deformation to affect the
study area. Its structures overprint and even obliterate some of
the earlier D1 structures. It is represented by the foliation S2 and
NNWSSE trending doubly plunging macroscopic and mesoscopic
folds (F2). The foliation S2 is an intense crenulation cleavage in
the volcano-sedimentary rocks and it often forms an axial planar
cleavage to F2 folds. Interference of D1 and D2 strains also forms
pencil structures. The macroscopic F2 folds are upright asymmetric, though some verge to the WSW. Two en echelon, left-stepping
macroscopic antiforms were mapped in the study area. In this
study we have assigned them the names Sarir and Harhagit antiforms (Fig. 1). The Sarir antiform in the southeastern corner of
the mapped area is a broad antiform that extends for 20 km in
the NNWSSE direction. It is asymmetric with its northeastern
limb dipping at angles of 2530 and its southwestern limb
dipping at angles of 4050. The folded sequence is intruded by
late tectonic alkali feldspar granites (G2) near the core of the
Sarir antiform. The Harhagit antiform extends for  5 km in the
northwestern part of the mapped area, where it affects mainly
basic-intermediate schistose metavolcanics locally associated with
acidic varieties. The Harhagit antiform is cut near its southern end
by the inferred (D3) Hodein strike-slip shear zone (Fig. 1).

M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

4.3. Deformational event D3

The D3 deformational event is represented by two major strikeslip shear zones, named the Hodein and Khashab shear zones
(Fig. 1). The Khashab shear zone is a major sinistral wrench fault
subparallel to Wadi Khashab in the southwestern part of the
mapped area. This shear zone strikes NNWSSE and is steeply inclined (7080) towards the ENE. It was earlier interpreted as a
thrust zone (El Amawy et al., 2000a). However, it shows subhorizontal slip striations, indicating a dominantly strike-slip movement with subordinate reverse component. The fault cuts and
offsets the syntectonic gabbros (5 km displacement) and therefore it is younger than the gabbroic rocks. Gabbros and metavolcanics on both sides of the fault show fault-drag folds, conrming the
sinistral movement. The Hodein shear zone is an inferred strikeslip fault, which extends for 25 km in the study area and continues beyond it. It is subparallel with Wadi Hodein and crosses the
study area diagonally from its southeastern to its northwestern
corners. It appears as a straight lineament on satellite (Landsat)
images of the study area. The fault apparently truncates the structures on either side (see the geological map and the cross-sections,
Fig. 1). Lithological offset and fault-drag folds indicate a sinistral
movement. The two strike-slip shear zones cut both D1 (ENE
WSW) and D2 (NNWSSE) structures, and offset the syn-late tectonic gabbros. These observations conrm that the shear zones
are younger than D2. Both the Khashab and Hodein strike-slip
shear zones strike NNWSSE subparallel with the Najd faults and
show a similar sense of movement. Therefore, it is possible that
they represent an extension of the Najd Fault System into southern
Egypt. Similar relationships have been documented in other areas
of the Eastern Desert (Abdeen et al., 1992; Abdeen and Warr,
1998; Greiling et al., 1994; de Wall et al., 2001; Abdeen and Greiling, 2005; Abdeen and Abdelghaffar, 2007).
4.4. Deformational phase D4
The D4 deformational event is less pronounced than the other
deformational events and is represented by two EW oriented vertical faults near the centre of the mapped area (Fig. 1) showing
apparent dextral offset of the lithological units on both sides. The
northern fault forms a single segment extending for about 4 km,
whereas the southern one forms two left-stepping segments with
a total length of about 8 km and 0.5 km spacing. These faults do
not show a clear cross-cutting relation to any of the D1D3 structures in the study area although similar faults (of similar orientation and sense of movements) are known in the neighbouring
areas cutting the Phanerozoic rocks (e.g. El Etr et al., 1982; Gupta,


1992; Geological Survey of Egypt, 1996; Abdeen, 2001) and therefore, they are considered younger.
5. Analysis of orientation data
Although F2 folds have affected earlier F1 folds, some older fabrics remained unchanged and hence some F1 folds were preserved.
Stereographic projection of the poles to S1 early foliation planes
(Fig. 4a) shows concentration of data points along a single girdle
indicating that S1 foliation planes are folded about a gently SSW
plunging F1 axis and that F1 folds are open. Stereographic projection of S2 early foliation planes (Fig. 4b) also shows concentration
of data points along a single girdle indicating folding about a NNW
gently plunging F2 axis. Stereographic projections of the mesoscopic F1 and F2 folds (Fig. 5) show the predominance of the two
fold sets.
The D1 shear zone is folded by ENEWSW oriented folds during
the D1 deformational event as a result of progressive shortening.
Megascopic and mesoscopic folds related to this D1 event are
shown on Fig. 1. The megascopic F1 folds are upright, open and
doubly plunging with gentle plunge angles (see cross-section A
and B, Fig. 1). However, the F1 mesoscopic folds are tight, overturned, recumbent and asymmetric with WSW plunge and SSE vergence (Fig. 6). This could be explained by the early formation of the
mesoscopic F1 folds related to D1 thrusts which were later folded
due to progressive shortening, as they are associated with several
minor thrust faults and duplexes within the major D1 thrust
6. Strain analysis
The orientation of the long axes of 23 stretched metavolcanic
pebbles (Fig. 7) enclosed in the highly sheared volcaniclastic rocks
at the thrust zone south of Gabal Harhagit were measured and
plotted on a stereonet (Fig. 8). The pebble long axes have a preferred subhorizontal or gentle plunge towards the SSE. This
stretching direction, together with the orientation of a folded
quartz pebble and the asymmetry of foliation around deformed
pebbles (Fig. 7) are interpreted to indicate top to the SSE shearing
and nappe transport during the D1 deformational event. A set of 28
deformed pebbles were extracted from the volcaniclastic rocks.
These pebbles were investigated and were found to be all of the
same rock type. The pebbles principal axes were measured in order to quantify the bulk strain. The long, intermediate and short
axes (x, y and z, respectively) of the pebbles were measured and
the axial ratios Rxy, Ryz and Rxz for each pebble were calculated
(Table 1). The values of Rxy were plotted against the values of

Fig. 4. Stereographic projection (lower hemisphere) of the poles to foliation planes measured in two isolated outcrops. (a) Small dots are the poles to S1 foliation planes and
the large dot is the plunge of the F1 megascopic fold axis. (b) Small dots are the poles to S2 foliation planes and the large dot is the plunge of the F2 megascopic fold axis.


M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

Fig. 5. Stereographic projection (lower hemisphere) of the mesoscopic folds showing predominant SW and NNWSSE fold orientations related to D1 and D2,

Fig. 8. Stereographic projection (lower hemisphere) of the long axes of stretched

metavolcanic pebbles showing SSE preferred orientation. Note parallelism with
stretching lineations (Fig. 3).

Table 1
Strain measurements on deformed clasts in the volcano-sedimentary rocks southwest
of Gabal Harhagit
Serial no.

Pebble measurements (in cm)

Long axis

Fig. 6. Mesoscopic overturned and recumbent folds gently plunging towards ENE
and verging towards SSE developed during D1 deformational phase; photograph
looking west.


Fig. 7. Strained metavolcanic pebble with asymmetric pressure shadows in a volcano-sedimentary layer showing thrust transport top towards the left, i.e. SSE. Note
stair-stepping of foliation around the clast. Photograph looking West.

axis (y)

Axial ratios
Short axis






















Ryz on the Flinn (1978) diagram (Fig. 9). This diagram shows that
all pebbles fall in the eld of apparent constriction compatible with
ductile extension of the pebbles. The harmonic means of the three
principal axial ratios (Lisle, 1977) were calculated and were found
to be 3.1, 1.3 and 4.8. The corresponding k-value (k = Rxy  1/
Ryz  1) is 8.3. The elongation of the pebbles in the NNWSSE
direction is restricted to the shear zones and is probably the accumulated effect of D1 and D2 deformations. During the D1 event,
the pebbles were stretched within a shear zone and their X-axes

M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

Fig. 9. Flinn diagram showing the strained pebbles occupying the eld of apparent
constriction (prolate eld).

are now oriented in the NNWSSE direction, parallel with the

direction of nappe transport during the D1 event. Subsequently,
pebbles were subjected to an ENEWSW compression associated
with the D2 event leading to the present-day shape and orientation
of the pebbles.
7. Discussion and conclusion
The Neoproterozoic basement rocks of the Wadi Hodein area
evolved during the Pan-African Orogeny through three deformational events, D1 (oldest), D2 and D3 (youngest). These are followed by a younger event D4, which may be late Pan-African but
could also be related to the Red Sea opening in late Tertiary times.
D1 is interpreted to record an early NNWSSE shortening event
associated with Pan-African thrusting during which intra-oceanic
arcs and plateaus were accreted and obducted (Shackleton et al.,
1980; Krner et al., 1987; Harris et al., 1993; Stern, 1994; Stein
and Goldstein, 1996; Abdelsalam et al., 2003a). During D1, low angle shear zones interpreted as thrust faults and related F1 folds
were formed. Thrust sheets included oceanic melange with serpentinite, talc-carbonate, talc-antigorite-ankerite schists which
were obducted over the island-arc metavolcanics. Stretching lineations together with shear criteria indicate the D1 thrust transport
direction was towards the SSE. This D1 event is probably the effect
of early collision of island-arc terranes. The second deformational
event D2 is represented by structures that developed at a later
stage of the orogeny, when East and West-Gondwana collided
and the Arabian Nubian Shield was squeezed between them (Burke
and Sengr, 1986; Krner et al., 1987; Berhe, 1990; Stern, 1994;
Abdelsalam, 1994; Abdelsalam et al., 2003b; Kusky et al., 2003;
Johnson and Woldehaimanot, 2003; Abdeen and Abdelghaffar,
2007). D2 is consistent with compression and shortening at right
angles to that associated with D1. During D2, NNWSSE oriented
asymmetrical, tight folds with WSW vergence developed normal
to those associated with D1. D1 thrusts and folds were overprinted
by D2 structures. Stretched pebbles enclosed within the volcaniclastic rocks show extension in NNW-SSE direction, probably
resulting from combined D1 and D2 events.
Towards the end of the Pan-African orogeny, D3 structures
developed, which are characterized by sinistral wrenching and
NNWSSE trending left-lateral strike-slip shear zones (Wadi Hodein and Khashab shear zones). These shear zones may represent
the continuation of the Najd Fault system into southern Egypt.
Comparisons with structural studies in the Wadi Madi, Wadi
Beida and Um Teneidbah areas, which are adjacent to the present
area in the south and north, respectively (El Amawy et al., 2000a,


2000b; Hamimi and Sakran, 2001) (Table 2), show some similarities but also many conicting results. Similarities concern (a) the
rst three deformational events affecting the region, being essentially those described above as D1, D2 and D3, though not necessarily in that order and (b) the structures associated with the D2
event, which are large-scale NNWSSE oriented doubly plunging
asymmetrical folds with WSW vergence.
Controversies are related to the timing of the other two deformational events (D1 and D3) and their associated structures. Hamimi and Sakran (2001) assign D1 to the formation of early thrusts
without mentioning their orientation. In contrast, El Amawy
et al. (2000a, 2000b) argue that D1 was responsible for the formation of the NWSE to NNWSSE oriented folds and thrusts with a
SW direction of thrust transport. They further stated that these
thrusts were initiated during D1 but reached their climax during
D2 and that D1 was coaxial with D2. Due to the absence of type
3 coaxial superposed folds, D1 and D2 of El Amawy et al. (2000a)
are considered to represent only one event, equivalent to D2 in
the present study.
El Amawy et al. (2000a) considered the island-arc metavolcanics forming the Khashab-Beida belt as related to the ophiolitic
assemblage rocks thrusted over the syntectonic quartz dioritegranitoids. They related this thrust to their D2 event. In the present
study we consider the syntectonic gabbro-diorite as intruding the
metavolcanics and there is no evidence of thrusting relations between them. Instead, it is a sinistral strike-slip shear zone (Khashab
shear zone, Fig. 1) related to the D3 event, not D2 as proposed by El
Amawy et al. (2000a).
As mentioned before, the D3 of El Amawy et al. (2000a) and
Hamimi and Sakran (2001) is equivalent to D1 in the present work.
The D3 in the present work has not been distinguished by previous
authors. D3 in the present study is documented by major NNW-SSE
oriented sinistral strike-slip shear zones that overprint earlier D1
and D2 structures.
The evidence presented here that the D1 event is contemporaneous with thrust and fold structures advocates early compressional
deformation. A second stage of compression, D2 caused NNWSSE
trending regional folds. EW oriented dextral wrench faults could
be interpreted as conjugate faults to the D3 NWSE oriented sinistral wrench faults. In the present area no overprinting relationships
are visible, since the EW faults are of limited length and do not
come into contact with D3 structures. However, similar EW
wrench faults towards north and west can be seen to crosscut Phanerozoic cover rocks (e.g. Geological Survey of Egypt, 1996; Abdeen,
2001). Therefore, they may be related to a subsequent deformation
event termed D4. The dextral sense of movement on the EW oriented faults is in agreement with the simple shear tectonic model
for the Red Sea rift south of latitude 24 to approximately 20,
where a transition zone with a discontinuous axial trough is developed (Ghebreab, 1998). This zone is commonly described as the
location of the northward propagating crack tip associated with
sea oor spreading (Dixon et al., 1987). The central part of this transition zone corresponds to the latitude of the present area.
An economic aspect of the present results concerns the NWSE
to NNWSSE oriented gold-bearing quartz veins traversing the volcano-sedimentary rocks along Wadi Beida, which are related to the
volcanic episodes during the island-arc stage or the early arc-accretion stage (Nano et al., 2002). Although rocks adjacent to shear
zones were deformed by stretching in NWSE to NNWSSE directions, farther away from the gliding surfaces the blocks were rather
rigid and deformed by development of extensional fractures normal
to the D1 transport direction. Our interpretation here is that the
quartz veins lled NWSE to NNWSSE oriented open fractures
generated due to extension normal to early D1 compression. Subsequently, they were deformed by the D2 phase that extended the
quartz veins in the NW to NNWSSE direction. Ultimately, the veins


M.M. Abdeen et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 52 (2008) 2129

Table 2
Comparison between deformation events documented in the present work and those previously published from neighbouring areas

Wadi Madi area El Amawy et al. (2000a)

Wadi Beida area El Amawy et al.


Um Teneidbah area Hamimi

and Sakran (2001)

Wadi Hodein area (Present work)


EW dextral faults, which may have a

relation to the Red Sea opening.


F3: NESW to NNESSW oriented open

folds, steeply plunging towards NE & SW.

F3: NESW oriented folds, steeply

plunging towards NE & SW.

L3: crenulation lineations, coaxial with F3

fold axes.

L3: crenulation lineations and

kink axes, steeply plunging
towards NE & SW.
S3: less common, parallel to the
F3 axial planes, steeply dipping
towards NW & SE
F2: NNW-SSE oriented
asymmetric, symmetric and less
tight folds, moderately plunging
towards NNW and SSE with WSW
L2: mineral lineations, marble
and quartz boudins, crenulations
S2: (S2//S1), schistosity planes
axial planar to F2 folds.

Extensional shear fracture

boudinage structures, with low
aspect ratio and moderate layer
thickness ratio.
F3: Open to very open folds
with ENE and WSW plunging
L3: Kink bands and axes of
minor folds.

S3: non-penetrative, axial planar to F3,

steeply dipping towards NW & SE.


Regional thrusts
F2: NNWSSE oriented asymmetric,
symmetric, upright, overturned and less
tight, moderately-steeply plunging
towards NNW & SSE with SW vergence.
L2: mineral lineations, marble and quartz
boudins, crenulations and pencil-like
S2: (S2//S1), schistosity planes developed
in syntectonic granitoids and overlying
allochthonous rocks.
F1: NWSE oriented minor folds,
asymmetrical, very tight, recumbent,
overturned nd intrafolial, gently plunging
towards SE and NW.
L1: NWSE oriented lineations, coaxial
with F1 fold axes.
S1: (S1//S0), developed only in he
allochthonous ophiolites and arc

F1: WNWESE oriented minor

folds, very tight, overturned and
intrafolial, gently plunging to ESE
and WNW.
L1: lineations are coaxial with F1
fold axes.
S1: (S1//S0), developed only in
the allochthonous ophiolites and
arc volcanics

were overprinted by D3 sinistral strike-slip faults, which we relate

to the Najd Fault System. At a later time, probably during the Red
Sea opening, the area was affected by EW oriented dextral
strike-slip faults that overprinted the earlier structures.
Landsat satellite images and eld facilities were provided by the
National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences
(NARSS), Cairo, Egypt. Literature review, manuscript writing and
computer work were done during the visits of the rst and second
authors to GeologicalPalaeontological Institute of Heidelberg University, Germany funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
(DFG) and the Egyptian Government, respectively. The two institutions are thankfully acknowledged. Thanks to Dr. Woldai Ghebreab, Asmara University, Eritrea, for his fruitful discussions. Critical
reviews and constructive comments of the editor Pat Eriksson,
the reviewer A.R. Fowler, and an anonymous reviewer have improved the quality of the paper and are gratefully acknowledged.
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Regional NWSE trending high angle

sinistral shear zones affecting D1 and D2

S3: Axial plane foliation.

F2: open symmetric

asymmetric to tight overturned

L2: axes of minor folds and

kinks, crenulations and
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