Origin and kinematics of a basin-scale, non-polygonal, layer-bound normal fault system in the Levant Basin, eastern Mediterranean

Amir Joffe, Christopher A.L. Jackson, Josh Steinberg, Rebecca E. Bell, Yizhaq Makovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polygonal, layer-bound normal faults can extend over very large areas (>2,000,000 km2) of sedimentary basins. Best developed in very fine-grained rocks, these faults are thought to form during early burial in response to a range of diagenetic processes, including compaction and water expulsion. Local deviations from this idealised polygonal pattern are common; however, basin-scale, layer-bound faults with non-polygonal map view are not well-documented and accordingly, their genesis is not well understood. In this study, we use 3D seismic reflection data, biostratigraphy and well logs from the Southern Levant Basin, offshore Israel, to develop an age-constrained seismic-stratigraphic framework and determine the geometry and kinematics of such basin-scale fault system. The faults tip out downwards along an Eocene Unconformity, but unlike layer-bound faults in the Northern Levant Basin, they do not reach the base of the Messinian evaporites, instead tipping out upwards at the top Langhian. On average, the faults in the Southern Levant Basin are 6.3 km long, have an average throw of 120 m, and consistently strike NW-SE. Throw-depth plots, accompanied by thickness changes, indicate that the faults accumulated growth strata during the Late Burdigalian and are spatially and kinematically associated with a WSW-ESE-striking strike-slip fault. Unlike true polygonal faults, these faults propagated through ca. 2 km-thick sandstone-prone Oligocene-Miocene strata. Whereas previous studies from the Northern Levant Basin associate fault nucleation and growth with burial-related diagenesis, the sandstone-prone character of the Oligocene-Miocene suggests that this process cannot be readily applied to the Southern Levant Basin. Instead, we highlight potential tectonic events that occurred during and may have triggered thin-skinned extension at times of fault growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-691
Number of pages30
JournalBasin Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Basin Research published by International Association of Sedimentologists and European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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