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Large discontinuous exposures of basaltic lava flows, ranging in age mostly from Miocene to Recent, are present in several localities extending from Sinai, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, to Lebanon and Syria (Dubertret, 1955; Baldridge et al. 1991; Mouty et al. 1992; Heimann et al. 1996; Shaw et al. 2003). These form the Cenozoic volcanic province of the Middle East, occurring mostly along or near the transform faulted boundary (the Dead Sea–Ghab transform fault system) between the Arabian and African plates and the Levantine subplate (Fig. 1⇓). Further to the south, several other extensive Cenozoic volcanic provinces occur in Arabia and east Africa (mostly Ethiopia).
The Cenozoic continental flood basalts in Ethiopia, Yemen, western Arabia and Jordan have been extensively studied (Camp & Roobol, 1989, 1992; Altherr, Henjes-Kunst & Baumann, 1990; Stein & Hofmann, 1992; Baker, Thirlwall & Menzies, 1996; Baker et al. 1997; Shaw et al. 2003). The Cenozoic volcanic province of Ethiopia is clearly related to the East-African rift system (Barberi et al. 1975; Mohr, 1983). The Quaternary intraplate basaltic volcanic field in Yemen appears to be the result of melting shallow mantle, perhaps in response to small amounts of lithospheric extension that were metasomatized and hydrated by the Afar plume during, or shortly after, Oligocene flood volcanism (Baker et al. 1997). The lavas of this basaltic field of western Yemen were subjected to variable degrees of contamination (0–20 %) of an Early Proterozoic to Late Archaean silicic lower crustal component (Baker, Thirlwall & Menzies, 1996; Baker et al. 1997).
The Cenozoic continental flood basalt provinces of …