Origin of the Cretaceous olistostromes in the Oman mountains (Sultanate of Oman): Evidence from clay minerals

Frank Mattern*, Andreas Scharf, Bernhard Pracejus, Issa S.A. Al Shibli, Bader M.S. Al Kabani, Waleed Y.A. Al Qasmi, Wolfgang Kiessling, Ivan Callegari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Mid- to Late Cretaceous olistostrome generation ensued sequentially, linked to progressive southwest-directed thrusting of the Semail Ophiolite towards and over Arabia – at first in the northeastern part of the oceanic Hawasina Basin (Umar Sub-Basin) and then in its southwestern part (Hamrat Duru-Sub-Basin). Thrusting steepened slopes, causing seismic tremors, which destabilized slope sediments and triggering olistostrome formation. Ophiolite thrusting over Arabia created the Aruma Foreland Basin. Olistostrome formation in the foredeep ensued last and on the flank of the uplifting forebulge. As olistoliths, Olistostrome 1 contains radiolarian limestone, plain micrite, allodapic limestone, basalt, amygdaloidal basalt, radiolarian chert and coarse, massive limestone with crystalline texture (Oman Exotics). These olistoliths “float” in shale, containing illite/muscovite, vermiculite and kaolinite. Olistostrome 1 formed in the Umar Sub-Basin. Olistostrome 2 is associated with the Late Albian to Coniacian Nayid Formation of the Hamrat Duru Sub-Basin. It is characterized by olistoliths of graded limestones (calc-turbidites) with angular shelfal limestone lithoclasts. The olistoliths are embedded in shale with unidentifiable clay minerals. Olistostrome 2 formed in the Hamrat Duru Sub-Basin, postdating Olistostrome 1. Olistostrome 3 is associated with the Upper Cretaceous Aruma Foreland Basin and characterized by olistoliths, like lithoclastic packstone (calcarenite), dolomitic limestone, and sandstone with carbonate lithoclasts. The matrix of the olistoliths is a pyrophyllite- and kaolinite-bearing shale. Olistostrome 3 formed in the foredeep as the youngest olistostrome. The different clay mineralogy of Olistostrome 1 and Olistostrome 3, reflects their different basinal origin. Shale samples taken from conventional sediments (no olistostromes) of the syn-tectonic and post-tectonic Aruma units show some resemblance in their clay mineralogy as they contain detritus from the Oman Mountains. Olistolith types of both Hawasina olistostromes differ significantly. The reviewed and novel data may serve as a guideline for future olistostrome studies in the Oman Mountains and may be particularly helpful in identifying the basinal origin of olistostromes in case of fault-bounded olistostromes, unexposed olistostrome contacts and inconclusive olistoliths. Evaluating matrix shales of olistostromes leads to important decision criteria, such as color, oxygenation state and clay mineralogy, to determine the paleogeographic basin position.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104547
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Al-Khod Formation
  • Aruma foreland basin
  • Clay minerals
  • Hawasina Basin
  • Muti Formation
  • Oman Exotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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