Oligocene-Miocene formation of the Haifa basin: Qishon-Sirhan rifting coeval with the Red Sea-Suez rift system

U. Schattner, Z. Ben-Avraham, M. Reshef, G. Bar-Am, M. Lazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During mid-Oligocene to early-Miocene times the northeastern Afro-Arabian plate underwent changes, from continental breakup along the Red Sea in the south, to continental collision with Eurasia in the north and formation of the N-S trending Dead Sea fault plate boundary. Concurrent uplift and erosion of the entire Levant area led to an incomplete sedimentary record, obscuring reconstructions of the transition between the two tectonic regimes. New well data, obtained on the continental shelf of the central Levant margin (Qishon Yam 1), revealed a uniquely undisturbed sedimentary sequence which covers this time period. Evaporitic facies found in this well have only one comparable location in the entire eastern Mediterranean area (onland and offshore) over the same time frame - the Red Sea-Suez rift system. Analysis of 4150 km of multi and single-channel seismic profiles, offshore central Levant, shows that the sequence was deposited in a narrow basin, restricted to the continental shelf. This basin (the Haifa Basin) evolved as a half graben along the NW trending Carmel fault, which at present is one of the main branches of the Dead Sea fault. Re-evaluation of geological data onland, in view of the new findings offshore, indicates that the Haifa basin is the northwestern-most of a larger series of basins, comprising a failed rift along the Qishon-Sirhan NW-SE trend. This failed rift evolved spatially parallel to the Red Sea-Suez rift system, and at the same time frame. The Carmel fault would therefore seem to be related to processes occurring several million years earlier than previously thought, before the formation of the Dead Sea fault. The development of a series of basins in conjunction with a young spreading center is a known phenomenon in other regions worldwide; however this is the only known example from across the Arabian plate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Afro-Arabian plate
  • Carmel fault
  • Haifa Basin
  • Half graben
  • Levant margin
  • Oligocene
  • Red Sea-Suez

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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