Preliminary Post Cruise Report for the Jeddah Transect Project P (408) Sub-Project 2 - Leg 1, An Interdisciplinary Research Cruise in the Hatiba Deep and Port Sudan Deep in the Red Sea to Understand the Hydrothermal Venting and Volcanism

SGS-DF-2011-3 Abdulnasser S. Qutub
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The Red Sea is an ocean in the making that started to form in the Miocene.  It is an elongated body of water trending north-south and stretching approximately 2000 km, with a maximum water depth of over 2500 m and maximum width ranging between 306 – 354 km near Massawa in Eriteria and in the south near Jizan in Saudi Arabia.  For many years the Red Sea has been the focus of interest because of its unique character and the information it provides concerning the mobility of the earth’s crust, sea floor spreading and rifting. It is the youngest oceanic basin that is being formed by the divergence of the African and the Arabian Plates. The split caused by the tectonic activity along the Red Sea has resulted in the formation of over 20 deeps (fig. 1). The rifting rate has been reported to be up to 2 cm annually in the south. Some deeps contain basalts, some have evaporite deposits and/or have brine pools only, whereas some have metalliferous muds and even chimneys, and others have no mineralization at all. It is thus safe to conclude that the formation of the individual deeps was independently controlled because the environmental setting varies greatly, and there is no relationship among the numerous deeps as indicated by various research projects carried out in the Red Sea. The Atlantis II Deep on the axis of the Red Sea is the largest and the most mineralized deep, holding huge amounts of authigenic minerals, clay minerals and iron oxides. It is approximately 15 km long and 5 km wide with a water depth range of about 2200 m.  A number of research cruises in the Red Sea have been carried out by many international agencies in order to understand its formation, tectonic history, hydrothermal venting, and brine pool formation including the economics of the mineral resources associated with the deeps, especially the Atlantis II Deep. A joint collaboration between the KAU in Saudi Arabia and IFM-GEOMAR in Germany lead to the formation of the “Jeddah Transect Project P408”. The project in the three years of its tenure will deal with aspects related to some of the Red Sea Deeps and the coastal stretch of the eastern Red Sea in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The study would cover various aspects concerning volcanism, hydrothermal venting to brine formation, marine mineral resources (metalliferous deposits), biology, sedimentology, marine geochemistry, and marine physics and hydrography.  The report focuses on the initial observations, the equipment used and data collected during the sub-project 2, leg 1 (P 408). The 18 days research cruise was concentrated in the Hatiba Deep and Port Sudan Deep in the central Red Sea rift axis and a transect line leading to the coastal waters off Jeddah.



Qutub, A.S., 2011,  Preliminary post cruise report for the Jeddah Transect Project P (408) Sub-Project 2 - Leg 1, An interdisciplinary research cruise in the Hatiba Deep and Port Sudan Deep in the Red Sea to understand the hydrothermal venting and volcanism: Saudi Geological Data-File Report SGS-DF-2011-3, 36 p., 22 figs. 2 tables.