The Saharan Metacraton


This article introduces the name "Saharan Metacraton" to refer to the pre-Neoproterozoic-but sometimes highly remobilized during Neoproterozoic time-continental crust which occupies the north-central part of Africa and extends in the Saharan Desert in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Chad and Niger and the Savannah belt in Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic and Cameroon. This poorly known tract of continental crust occupies ~5,000,000 km2 and extends from the Arabian-Nubian Shield in the east to the Tuareg Shield to the west and from the Congo craton in the south to the Phanerozoic cover of the northern margin of the African continent in southern Egypt and Libya. The term "metacraton" refers to a craton that has been remobilized during an orogenic event but is still recognizable dominantly through its rheological, geochronological and isotopic characteristics. Neoproterozoic remobilization of the Saharan Metacraton was in the forms of deformation, metamorphism, emplacement of igneous bodies, and probably local episodes of crust formation related to rifting and oceanic basin development, Relics of unaffected or only weakly remobilized old lithosphere are present as exemplified by the Archean to Paleoproterozoic charnockites and anorthosites of the Uweinat massif at the Sudanese/Egyptian/Libyan boarder. The article explains why the name "Saharan Metacraton" should be used, defines the boundaries of the metacraton, reviews geochronological and isotopic data as evidence for the presence of pre-Neoproterozoic continental crust, and discusses what happened to the Saharan Metacraton during the Neoproterozoic. A model combining collisional processes, lithospheric delamination, regional extension, and post-collisional dismembering by horizontal shearing is proposed.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Geographic Coverage

North Africa

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Article - Journal

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© 2002 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2002