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The rigidity of the western Arabian margin: extensional strain rate field from GPS networks


Previous analysis of the deformation field of the Arabian margin using then the available network of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) stations found that an assumption of a rigid Arabia satisfied the observations as reported by ArRajehi et al. (Tectonics 29, no. 3, 2010). However, an Mw 5.4 intra-plate earthquake occurred in 2009 in the Alshaqqah Harrat as discussed by Pallister et al. (Nature Geoscience 3, no. 10:705, 2010) suggesting that there is ongoing active deformation within the western Arabian margin. We evaluate the Arabian margin deformation field using an expanded network totaling 87 GPS stations distributed within Saudi Arabia. With the addition of these GPS stations, we found evidence of extensional strain within the Arabian margin, in regions that were unsampled by the previous geodetic networks. Although, due to the short time series, the signal at these new GPS sites is very close to the limit of the resolution, this study provides the first indication, derived from GPS velocities, of the location and extent of active internal deformation within the Arabian plate.

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We acknowledge the Saudi General Commission for Survey for providing GPS data used in this study. This research was supported by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. Many of the figures were produced using GMT (Wessel and Smith, 1991).

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Correspondence to Thamer Aldaajani.

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Responsible Editor: François Roure

Supplementary Information

Table 1

Table of GPS velocities with respect to stable Nubia reference frame. This table shows the GPS velocities in north (Vel (N)) and east (Vel (E)) directions and their associated uncertainties (Sig (N) and Sig (E)) with stable Nubia reference frame. The approximated duration for every site is provided in separate column. This table shows our GPS stations (A and B categories) in addition to selected GPS stations from previous studies within the Arabian plate and along its boundaries (Blewitt et al. 2018) (DOCX 40 kb)

Table 2

Table of GPS residuals with respect to rigid Arabia. This table lists the magnitude and azimuth of GPS residuals. This table lists the residuals of our GPS stations (A and B categories) and selected GPS stations from previous studies within the Arabian plate and along its boundaries (Blewitt et al. 2018) (DOCX 35 kb)

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Aldaajani, T., Furlong, K. & Malservisi, R. The rigidity of the western Arabian margin: extensional strain rate field from GPS networks. Arab J Geosci 14, 393 (2021).

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  • Tectonics
  • Lithospheric deformation
  • Geodynamics