Semi-automated bathymetric spectral decomposition delineates the impact of mass wasting on the morphological evolution of the continental slope, offshore Israel

Omri Gadol, Gideon Tibor, Uri ten Brink, John K. Hall, Gavrielle Groves-Gidney, Gideon Bar-Am, Christian Hübscher, Yizhaq Makovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding continental-slope morphological evolution is essential for predicting basin deposition. However, separating the imprints and chronology of different seafloor shaping processes is difficult. This study explores the utility of bathymetric spectral decomposition for separating and characterizing the variety of interleaved seafloor imprints of mass wasting, and clarifying their role in the morphological evolution of the southeastern Mediterranean Sea passive-margin slope. Bathymetric spectral decomposition, integrated with interpretation of seismic profiles, highlights the long-term shape of the slope and separates the observed mass transport elements into several genetic groups: (1) a series of ~25 km wide, now-buried slide scars and lobes; (2) slope-parallel bathymetric scarps representing shallow faults; (3) slope-perpendicular, open slope slide scars; (4) bathymetric roughness representing debris lobes; (5) slope-confined gullies. Our results provide a multi-scale view of the interplay between sediment transport, mass transport and shallow faulting in the evolution of the slope morphology. The base of the slope and focused disturbances are controlled by ~1 km deep salt retreat, and mimic the Messinian base of slope. The top of the open-slope is delimited by faults, accommodating internal collapse of the margin. The now-buried slides were slope-confined and presumably cohesive, and mostly nucleated along the upper-slope faults. Sediment accumulations, infilling the now-buried scars, generated more recent open-slope slides. These latter slides transported ~10 km3 of sediments, depositing a significant fraction (~3 m in average) of the sediments along the base of the studied slope during the past ' 50 ka. South to north decrease in the volume of the open-slope slides highlight their role in counterbalancing the northwards diminishing sediment supply and helping to maintain a long-term steady-state bathymetric profile. The latest phase slope-confined gullies were presumably created by channelling of bottom currents into slide-scar depressions, possibly establishing incipient canyon headword erosion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1193
Number of pages28
JournalBasin Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Basin Research published by International Association of Sedimentologists and European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Levant Basin
  • landslide volume
  • mass transport complexes
  • morphometric analyses
  • semi-automated mapping
  • slope confined gullies
  • submarine slide
  • thin skin faulting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Semi-automated bathymetric spectral decomposition delineates the impact of mass wasting on the morphological evolution of the continental slope, offshore Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this