Mantle earthquakes in recently thinned Neoproterozoic lithosphere: Harrat Lunayyir, Saudi Arabia

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 1 of this Preprint.


Download Preprint


Alexander Robert Blanchette , Simon Klemperer, Walter D Mooney, Hani M Zahran


We use earthquake geothermometry, measured heat flow, and structural constraints from P-wave receiver functions to model the thermal evolution of the lithosphere beneath Harrat Lunayyir. We suggest that the lithosphere thinned to its present 60-km thickness in a second stage of lithospheric thinning at 15–12 Ma following initial Red Sea extension at ~27 Ma. Harrat Lunayyir is an active volcanic field located in the Arabian Shield > 150 km east of the Red Sea rift axis. In the lithospheric mantle beneath Harrat Lunayyir we locate 64 high-frequency earthquakes at depths of 42–48 km, all with mL ≤ 2.5. These brittle-failure earthquakes must have nucleated at relatively low temperatures, based upon global maximum nucleation depths and temperature-dependent-deformation experimental results. Therefore, the mantle earthquakes show that the upper-mantle lithosphere is not in thermal equilibrium with the shallow (60 km) underlying asthenosphere. Our thermal modeling indicates that the lithosphere beneath Harrat Lunayyir thinned to its current 60-km thickness at 12 ± 2 Ma, as constrained by thermal modeling of: (1) surface heat-flow; (2) the depth to the mid-crustal brittle-ductile transition, and (3) the depth to the upper-mantle brittle-ductile transition.



Geophysics and Seismology, Tectonics and Structure


Saudi Arabia, Red Sea Rifting, cratonic rejuvenation, lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary


Published: 2020-11-20 11:26

Last Updated: 2020-11-20 19:25


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data is available upon request from the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS).

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.