Kinematics and deformation of the southern Red Sea region from GPS observations

Renier Viltres, Sigurjon Jonsson, Joel Ruch, Cécile Doubre, Robert Reilinger, Michael Floyd, Ghebrebrhan Ogubazghi

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21 Scopus citations


The present-day tectonics of the southern Red Sea region is complicated by the presence of the overlapping Afar and southern Red Sea rifts as well as the uncertain kinematics and extent of the Danakil block in between. Here we combine up to 16 years of GPS observations and show that the coherent rotation of the Danakil block is well described by a Danakil-Nubia Euler pole at 16.36○N, 39.96○E with a rotation rate of 2.83 ○/My. The kinematic block modeling also indicates that the Danakil block is significantly smaller than previously suggested, extending only to Hanish-Zukur Islands (∼13.8○N) with the area to the south of the islands being a part of the Arabian plate. In addition, the GPS velocity field reveals a wide inter-rifting deformation zone across the northern Danakil-Afar rift with ∼5.6 mm/yr of east-west opening across Gulf of Zula in Eritrea. Together the results redefine some of the plate boundaries in the region and show how the extension in the southern Red Sea gradually moves over to the Danakil-Afar rift.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGeophysical Journal International
StatePublished - Mar 8 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): CRG4
Acknowledgements: We thank Yacob Tesfamariem, Abiel Yacob and Habtom Fessehaye (all at the Eritrea Institute of Technology) for their help with the 2016 GPS campaign in Eritrea. We also thank Elias Lewi (Addis Ababa University) for GPS data from Ethiopia and Daniele Trippanera (KAUST) for useful discussions. Editor Duncan Agnew and reviewers Cynthia Ebinger and Charles DeMets provided constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), under award number OSR-2015-CRG4-2643.


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