South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3AN, UK

44-(0) 1865-272032

44-(0) 1865-272067

Prof. Anthony B. Watts

Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics

Gravity anomalies over the United Arab Emirates foreland and their tectonic implications


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is underlain by a deep sedimentary basin which comprises a lower passive margin sequence and an upper foreland basin sequence. The passive margin sequence formed during the Permian-Early Cretaceous following break-up of the Arabian plate and the formation of Tethyan oceanic crust while the foreland basin sequence formed during the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary following ophiolite emplacement and thrust and fold loading in the Oman mountains. The aim of this project is to use gravity data, together with existing well and seismic data, to determine the depth to the base of the foreland sequence. By comparing this depth to the predictions of simple flexure models, constraints will be placed on the flexural rigidity of the UAE foreland and, hence, the thermal and mechanical properties of the underlying Tethyan rifted margin. The project, which will be collaborative one with Prof. Ali at the Petroleum Institute in Abhu Dhabi, will involve the acquisition of gravity data, the analysis of well, seismic and magnetic data, and gravity and flexure modelling.


Selected References:

Lin, A. T-S. and A. B. Watts, "Origin of the West Taiwan basin by orogenic loading and flexure of a rifted continental margin". J. Geophys. Res. 107, No B9, 2185, doi:10.1029/2001JB000669, 2002

Patton, T.L., and S.J. O'Connor, Cretaceous flexural history of northern Oman mountain foredeep, United Arab Emirates, Amer. Assoc. Pet. Geol., 72, 797-809, 1988.