Provenance of coastal dune sands along Red Sea, Egypt
Texture, mineralogy, and major and trace element geochemistry of 26 coastal dune sand samples were studied to determine the provenance and tectonic environment of two dune fields close to the beaches of Safaga (SF) and Quseir (QS) at the Egyptian Red Sea coast. Onshore winds generate fine, moderate, moderately-well to well-sorted, coarse-skewed to near-symmetrical dune sands with mesokurtic distributions. Winds pick up and transport grains from nearby beach sands and alluvial deposits into a wide Red Sea coastal plain at the border of the beach. The mineralogical (Qt–Ft–Lt) and geochemical composition of the sands, indicate that SF and QS coastal dune sands are mature and influenced by quartz-rich sands. The average CIA values in SF and QS coastal dune sands are low relative to the range of the PAAS, suggesting an arid climate and a low intensity of chemical weathering. The SF and QS coastal dune sand samples are plotted in the recycled orogen and partly in craton interior fields suggesting recycled older sedimentary and partly metamorphic-plutonic sources. The high content of quartz with shell debris and carbonates in coastal dune sands support the recycled sedimentary beach and alluvial sand sources. The dominance of heavy minerals like amphiboles (hornblende) and biotite in the coastal dune sands also supports the effect of metamorphic-plutonic source rocks. The new tectonic discriminant-function diagrams suggest that the coastal dune sands were deposited in a passive margin of a synrift basin. The results provide a good evidence for the extension in the Red Sea rift system during Oligocene-post Pliocene, which is consistent with the general geology of Egypt.