Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 170, Issue 12, pp 2037–2074 | Cite as

3D Crustal and Lithospheric Structures in the Southeastern Mediterranean and Northeastern Egypt

  • Salah SalehEmail author


Crustal and lithospheric thicknesses of the southeastern Mediterranean Basin region were determined using 3D Bouguer and elevation data analysis. The model is based on the assumption of local isostatic equilibrium. The calculated regional and residual Bouguer anomaly maps were employed for highlighting both deep and shallow structures. Generally, the regional field in the area under study is considered to be mainly influenced by the density contrast between the crust and upper mantle. Use of the gravity and topographic data with earthquake focal depths has improved both the geometry and the density distribution in the 3-D calculated profiles. The oceanic-continental boundary, the basement relief, Moho depth and lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary maps were estimated. The results point to the occurrence of thick continental crust areas with a thickness of approximately 32 km in northern Egypt. Below the coastal regions, the thickness of crust decreases abruptly (transition zone). An inverse correlation between sediment and crustal thicknesses shows up from the study. Furthermore, our density model reveals the existence of a continental crustal zone below the Eratosthenes Seamount block. Nevertheless, the crustal type beneath the Levantine basin is typically oceanic; this is covered by sedimentary sequences more than 14 km thick. The modeled Moho map shows a depth of 28–30 km below Cyprus and a depth of 26–28 km beneath the south Florence Rise in the northern west. However, the Moho lies at a constant shallow depth of 22–24 km below the Levantine Basin, which indicates thinning of the crust beneath this region. The Moho map reveals also a maximum depth of about 33–35 km beneath both the northern Egypt and northern Sinai, both of which are of the continental crust. The resulting mantle density anomalies suggest important variations of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) topography, indicating prominent lithospheric mantle thinning beneath south Cyprus (LAB ~90 km depth), followed by thickening beneath the Eratosthenes seamount, Florence Rise, Levantine Basin and reaching to maximum thickness below Cyprian Arc (LAB ~115–120 km depth), and further followed by thinning in the north African margin plate and north Sinai subplate (LAB ~90–95 km depth). According to our density model profiles, we find that almost all earthquakes in the study area occurred along the western and central segments of the Cyprian arc while they almost disappear along the eastern segment. The active subduction zone in the Cyprian Arc is associated with large negative anomalies due to its low velocity upper mantle zone, which might be an indication of a serpentinized mantle. This means that collision between Cyprus and the Eratosthenes Seamount block is marked by seismic activity. Additionally, this block is in the process of dynamically subsiding, breaking-up and being underthrusted beneath Cyprus to the north and thrusted onto the Levantine Basin to the south.


3-D density model lithosphere Bouguer and topographic maps seismicity southeastern mediterranean northeastern Egypt 



We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Sabine Schmidt for her help and permission to use the IGMAS software. We thank the two anonymous reviewers. We also thank Darrell A. Terry and Camelia Knapp, University of South Carolina, for their critical and constructive comments that contributed to improving this work. As well, the advice of the Associate Editor (Eugenio Carminati) improved the final version.


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© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG)Helwan, CairoEgypt

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