Present-Day Motion of the Arabian Plate

Renier Viltres*, Sigurjón Jónsson, Abdulaziz O. Alothman, Shaozhuo Liu, Sylvie Leroy, Frédéric Masson, Cécile Doubre, Robert Reilinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The present-day motions in and around the Arabian plate involve a broad spectrum of tectonic processes including plate subduction, continental collision, seafloor spreading, intraplate magmatism, and continental transform faulting. Therefore, good constraints on the relative plate rates and directions, and on possible intraplate deformation, are crucial to assess the seismic hazard at the boundaries of the Arabian plate and areas within it. Here we combine GNSS-derived velocities from 168 stations located on the Arabian plate with a regional kinematic block model to provide updated estimates of the present-day motion and internal deformation of the plate. A single Euler pole at 50.93 ± 0.15°N, 353.91 ± 0.25°E with a rotation rate of 0.524 ± 0.001°/Ma explains well almost all the GNSS station velocities relative to the ITRF14 reference frame, confirming the large-scale rigidity of the plate. Internal strain rates at the plate-wide scale (∼0.4 nanostrain/yr) fall within the limits for stable plate interiors, indicating that differential motions are compensated for internally, which further supports the coherent rigid motion of the Arabian plate at present. At a smaller scale, however, we identified several areas within the plate that accommodate strain rates of up to ∼8 nanostrain/yr. Anthropogenic activity and possible subsurface magmatic activity near the western margin of the Arabian plate are likely responsible for the observed local internal deformation. Put together, our results show a remarkable level of stability for the Arabian lithosphere, which can withstand the long-term load forces associated with active continental collision in the northeast and breakup to the southwest with minimal internal deformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021TC007013
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • GNSS
  • Plate tectonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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