The formation of graben morphology in the Dead Sea Fault, and its implications

Zvi Ben-Avraham, Regina Katsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Dead Sea Fault (DSF) is a 1000 km long continental transform. It forms a narrow and elongated valley with uplifted shoulders showing an east-west asymmetry, which is not common in other continental transforms. This topography may have strongly affected the course of human history. Several papers addressed the geomorphology of the DSF, but there is still no consensus with respect to the dominant mechanism of its formation. Our thermomechanical modeling demonstrates that existence of a transform prior to the rifting predefined high strain softening on the faults in the strong upper crust and created a precursor weak zone localizing deformations in the subsequent transtensional period. Together with a slow rate of extension over the Arabian plate, they controlled a narrow asymmetric morphology of the fault. This rift pattern was enhanced by a fast deposition of evaporites from the Sedom Lagoon, which occupied the rift depression for a short time period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6989-6996
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - 16 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • Dead Sea Fault
  • geodynamic modeling
  • rift
  • sediments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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