The Sha'it-Nugrus shear zone separating Central and South Eastern Deserts, Egypt: A post-arc collision low-angle normal ductile shear zone

A. Fowler, A. F. Osman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The northerly dipping Sha'it-Nugrus shear zone (SNSZ) is the boundary separating the Central Eastern Desert from the South Eastern Desert of Egypt. The hangingwall of this shear zone is composed of low-grade metavolcanics and ophiolitic nappes of the Central Eastern Desert, while the footwall consists of South Eastern Desert high-grade metapsammitic gneisses (Migif-Hafafit gneissic complex). The SNSZ is about 700 m thick and represents the shear foliated lower parts of the hangingwall and upper parts of the footwall. A significant part of the SNSZ has been truncated by a later normal fault along Wadi Sha'it, however the SNSZ is well-preserved along Wadi Nugrus. Features of the SNSZ include shear-related schistosity (termed Ss), mylonite zones, sheared syn-kinematic granitoid intrusions, diverse metasomatism and metamorphic effects (higher T overprinting of hangingwall lithologies and retrogression of footwall lithologies). Shear-sense indicators clearly show top-to-N or NW displacement sense. SNSZ structures overprint arc collision related nappe structures (∼680 Ma) and are therefore post-arc collision. SNSZ syn-kinematic intrusives have been dated at ∼600 Ma. The SNSZ is deformed (regionally and locally folded and thrust dissected) during later NE-SW compressive tectonism. The SNSZ had an originally approximately E-W strike, low-angle N-dip and a normal shear sense, making this an example of a low-angle normal ductile shear (LANF) or detachment fault. The steep NE dip of Ss foliations and low-pitching slip lineations along Wadi Nugrus are due to NW-SE folding of the SNSZ, and do not indicate a sinistral strike-slip shear zone. The normal shear sense activity is responsible for juxtaposing the low-grade Central Eastern Desert lithologies against South Eastern Desert gneisses. A displacement of 15-30 km is estimated on the SNSZ, which is comparable to LANF displacements in the Basin and Range province of the western USA. Frictional resistance along this shear was probably reduced by high magmatic fluid pressure and hydrothermal fluid pressure. The vastness and diversity of the hydrothermal activity along this shear zone is a characteristic of other LANFs in the Eastern Desert, e.g. at Gabal El-Sibai, and may be Gabal Meatiq. The SNSZ formed during the Neoproterozoic extensional tectonic phase of Eastern Desert that began ∼600 Ma, and followed arc collision and NW-ward ejection of nappes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-32
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Folded low-angle normal fault (LANF)
  • Neoproterozoic extension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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