Late Quaternary stratigraphy, Paleoclimate and neotectonism of the Persian (Arabian) Gulf region

TitleLate Quaternary stratigraphy, Paleoclimate and neotectonism of the Persian (Arabian) Gulf region
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsUchupi, E, Swift, SA, Ross, DA
JournalMarine Geology
Date PublishedAug
Accession NumberWOS:000081347200001

The last glacial deposits in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf consist of a > 22,000 year old paralic terrigenous sequence in the Mesopotamia Shelf, the foredeep in front of the Iranian Zagros Mountains and the northern side of the Biaban Shelf. Elsewhere, the Gulf, and probably the Biaban Shelf, were mantled by > 30,000 year old carbonates. Comparison of C-14 data from foraminifera from the last glacial terrigenous unit in the foredeep off Iran with curves published by Hopley [Hopley, D., 1982. The Geomorphology of the Great Barrier Reef: Quaternary Development of Coral Reefs. Wiley, New York, 453 pp.] and Chapell et al. [Chapell, J., Omura, A., Tezer, E., McCulloch, M., Pandolfi, J., Ota, Y., Pillans, B., 1996. Reconciliation of late Quaternary sea levels derived from coral terraces at Huon Peninsula with deep sea oxygen isotope records. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 141, 227-236.] indicates that the region may have experienced uplift during the last glacial, whereas other geologic data indicate that the foredeep has had a history of continuous subsidence during the Cenozoic. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is that the foraminifera analyzed are not in place, but were reworked into shallower water during the Holocene transgression. However, the foraminifera analyzed do not display any evidence of wear, indicating that such transport was limited. A third alternative is that sea level during the last glacial was much higher than indicated by the curves of Hopley and Chapell et al.At the peak of the last glaciation 21,000 to 20,000 years ago, when sea level was 120 m lower than now, the Gulf was a waterless basin and deposition was negligible. On the Biaban Shelf, the Holocene transgressive sequence resting unconformably on last glacial sediments consists of 14,000 year old carbonates, a > 11,000 year old terrigenous delta on the northern end of the Biaban Shelf and 11,000-10,000 year old intertidal-tidal aragonite deposited in a dry climate. On the northeast side of the Gulf, the last glacial sediments are covered by 10,000 to 7000 year old aragonite muds (younging toward the northwest). Resting on the aragonites on the Biaban Shelf and on the northeast and northwest sides of the Gulf are marls deposited under the present humid climate. The southwest side of the Gulf continued to be a site of carbonate deposition throughout the Holocene. Comparison of AMS C-14 measurements of the late Holocene marls with the sea level curve of Fairbanks [Fairbanks, R.G., 1989. A 17,000 year glacio-eustatic sea level record; influence of glacial melting rates and the Younger Dryas event and deep-ocean circulation. Nature 342, 637-642.] indicates that the axial zone of the Gulf off Iran experienced subsidence during the Holocene. This subsidence coupled with a rapid rise in sea level during a major glacial melt 9500 to 8500 years ago, when global sea level rose from -50 to -28 m, led to the replacement of marl with a shallow (8-25 m) water fauna by a 'deep' (> 50 m) water one. Similar measurements and other geologic data indicate that the Mesopotamia Shelf and the mouth of the Mesopotamian Depression on the northwest side of the Gulf underwent both subsidence and uplift during the Cenozoic. These vertical oscillations, however, were more subdued than these in the foredeep off iran. The Arabian Shelf along the Gulfs southwest side appears to have experienced minor uplift during the Cenozoic. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.