Advertisement

Variations in Plio-Pleistocene Deposition in the Red Sea

  • Neil C. Mitchell
  • Marco Ligi
  • Najeeb M. A. Rasul
Chapter

Abstract

The thickness of deep-water Plio-Pleistocene (PP) sediments in the Red Sea varies somewhat, as expected from increased biogenic pelagic production rates in the south and with input of aeolian and fluvial sediments through the Tokar Gap in the Sudanese hills. Otherwise, however, the sediment distribution does not obviously reflect the likely pattern of sediment input (from the positions of wind gaps through the Red Sea hills and fluvial drainage basin outlets). We use localized seismic surveys to investigate sediment distribution of two areas in more detail. The first, located near the coast of Egypt, utilized 3D seismic data collected for oil and gas exploration. The data reveal a pattern of sediment deposition that is unrelated to drainage basins of the adjacent hills. Instead, deposition here has been strongly affected by halokinetics, with sediment filling evaporite depressions that are elongated sub-parallel with the coast. For the second, Chirp sediment profiler data allow study of finer scale Pleistocene sedimentation around Thetis Deep in the central Red Sea. The data contain a common sequence of reflections, which suggests that hemipelagic sedimentation has been almost uniform about the deep. The seismic time interval between the seabed and one reflection at ~20–30 ms sub-bottom was mapped out and varies little either side of the deep, but does reveal a systematic thickening of the interval with increasing water depth. The data also reveal structures indicating localized slope failure and sediment flow deposits, as well as tectonic disruptions. From correlations of reflections with sea level curves and sediment core data, we suggest that the slope failures occurred in the Late Pleistocene after Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12 and probably before MIS 6. We suggest that these slopes likely failed because of seismic ground accelerations. Applying a pseudo-static slope stability model and assuming shear strengths of comparable carbonate-rich sediments, we estimate the potential acceleration and earthquake magnitude. The results suggest that the very low incidence of historical earthquakes in the central Red Sea is not entirely representative of the Late Pleistocene.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Rose Anne Weissel for help in locating and scanning the RV Conrad data used in this study. Permissions of the governments of Egypt, Sudan and Saudi Arabia to carry out the surveys on RVs Urania, Poseidon and Pelagia contributing to this study are gratefully acknowledged. The Urania cruise was funded by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche under project LEC-EMA21F of the European Science Foundation programme EUROMARGINS (contract ERAS-CT-2003-980409 of the European Commission, DG Research FP6). The Poseidon and Pelagia cruises were part of the Jeddah Transect Project, a collaboration between King Abdulaziz University and Helmholtz-Center for Ocean Research GEOMAR Kiel funded by King Abdulaziz University (KAU) Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, under grant No. T-065/430-DSR. Houshuo Jiang is thanked for supplying a copy of his model output used for Fig. 1. Rickbir Bahia is thanked for help in extracting the catchment boundaries in Fig. 1b.  We also thank Bill Bosworth for allowing access to the 3D seismic data used in generating Figs. 2, 3, 4 and 5. Figures in this article were created with the “GMT” and “PLOTMAP” software systems (Wessel and Smith 1991; Ligi and Bortoluzzi 1989). We thank four anonymous reviewers for comments that led to a significant improvement in this chapter and the editors and Saudi Geological Survey for organizing the publication of this book on the Red Sea.

References

  1. Al-Almadi K, Al-Amri A, See L (2014) A spatial statistical analysis of the occurrence of earthquakes along the Red Sea floor spreading: clusters of seismicity. Arab J Geosci 7:2893–2904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Amri AMS (1995) Recent seismic activity in the northern Red Sea. J Geodyn 20:243–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arrhenius GA (1963) Pelagic sediments. In: Hill MN (ed) The Sea. Wiley-Interscience, New York, pp 655–727Google Scholar
  4. Becker JJ, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF, Braud J, Binder B, Depner J, Fabre D, Factor J, Ingalls S, Kim S-H, Ladner R, Marks K, Nelson S, Pharaoh A, Trimmer R, Von Rosenberg J, Wallace G, Weatherall P (2009) Global bathymetry and elevation data at 30 arc seconds resolution: SRTM30_PLUS. Mar Geod 32:355–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bintanja R, van de Wal RSW (2008) North American ice-sheet dynamics and the onset of 100,000-year glacial cycles. Nature 454:869–872CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bosworth W, Huchon P, McClay K (2005) The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden basins. J Afr Earth Sci 43:334–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bower AS, Farrar JT (2015) Air-sea interaction and horizontal circulation in the Red Sea. In: Rasul NMA, Stewart ICF (eds) The Red Sea: the formation, morphology, oceanography and environment of a young ocean basin. Springer Earth System Sciences, Heidelberg, pp 329–342Google Scholar
  8. Chen C, Li R, Pratt L, Limeburner R, Beardsley RC, Bower A, Jiang H, Abualnaja Y, Xu Q, Lin H, Liu X, Lan J, Kim T (2014) Process modeling studies of physical mechanisms of the formation of an anticyclonic eddy in the central Red Sea. J Geophys Res 119:1445–1464.  https://doi.org/10.1002/2013JC009351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clifford M, Horton C, Schmitz J, Kantha LH (1997) An oceanographic nowcast/forecast system for the Red Sea. J Geophys Res 102:25101–25122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cochran JR (2005) Northern Red Sea: nucleation of an oceanic spreading center within a continental rift. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 6. Paper Q03006,  https://doi.org/10.01029/02004GC000826
  11. Cochran JR, Karner GD (2007) Constraints on the deformation and rupturing of continental lithosphere of the Red Sea: the transition from rifting to drifting. In: Karner GD, Manatschal G, Pinheiro LM (eds) Imaging, mapping and modelling continental lithosphere extension and breakup. Geol Soc London, Spec Publ 282, pp 265–289Google Scholar
  12. Crossley R, Watkins C, Raven M, Cripps D, Carnell A, Williams D (1992) The sedimentary evolution of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. J Petrol Geol 15:157–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davison I, Al-Kadashi M, Al-Khirbash S, Al-Subbary AK, Baker J, Blakey S, Bosence D, Dart C, Heaton R, McClay K, Menzies M, Nichols G, Owen L, Yellend A (1994) Geological evolution of the southeastern Red Sea Rift margin, Republic of Yemen. Geol Soc Am Bull 106:1474–1493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davison I, Anderson L, Nuttall P (2012) Salt deposition, loading and gravity drainage in the Campos and Santos salt basins. In: Alsop GI, Archer SG, Hartley AJ, Grant NT, Hodgkinson R (eds) Salt tectonics, sediments and prospectivity. Geol Soc London, Spec Publ 363, pp 159–173Google Scholar
  15. Egloff F, Rihm R, Makris J, Izzeldin YA, Bobsien M, Meier K, Junge P, Noman T, Warsi W (1991) Contrasting structural styles of the eastern and western margins of the southern Red Sea: the 1988 SONNE experiment. Tectonophys 198:329–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ehrhardt A, Hübscher C (2015) The northern Red Sea in transition from rifting to drifting—lessons learned from ocean deeps. In: Rasul NMA, Stewart ICF (eds) The Red Sea: the formation, morphology, oceanography and environment of a young ocean basin. Springer Earth System Sciences, Heidelberg, pp 99–121Google Scholar
  17. El-Isa ZH, Al Shanti A (1989) Seismicity and tectonics of the Red Sea and western Arabia. Geophys J 97:449–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Elderfield H, Ferretti P, Greaves M, Crowhurst S, McCave IN, Hodell D, Piotrowski AM (2012) Evolution of ocean temperature and ice volume through the mid-Pleistocene climate transition. Science 337:704–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fairhead JD, Girdler RW (1970) The seismicity of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Afar triangle. Phil Trans Royal Soc Lond A267:49–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fenton M, Geiselhart S, Rohling EJ, Hemleben C (2000) Aplanktonic zones in the Red Sea. Mar Micropal 40:277–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Flood RD (1988) A lee wave model for deep-sea mudwave activity. Deep-Sea Res 35:973–983CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gass IG (1970) The evolution of volcanism in the junction area of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Ethiopian rift. Phil Trans Roy Soc Lond A267:369–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gevirtz JL, Friedman GM (1966) Deep-sea carbonate sediments of the Red Sea and their implications on marine lithification. J Sediment Petrol 36:143–151Google Scholar
  24. Gordon G, Hansen B, Scott J, Hirst C, Graham R, Grow T, Spedding A, Fairhead S, Fullarton L, Griffin D (2010) The hydrocarbon prospectivity of the Egyptian North Red Sea basin. In: Vining BA, Pickering SC (eds) Petroleum geology: from mature basins to new frontiers. Proceedings of the 7th Petroleum Geology Conference. Geol Soc London, pp 783–789.  https://doi.org/10.1144/0070783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heaton RC, Jackson MPA, Bamahmoud M, Nani ASO (1995) Superimposed Neogene extension, contraction, and salt canopy emplacement in the Yemeni Red Sea. In: Jackson MPA, Roberts DG, Snelson S (eds) Salt tectonics: a global perspective. Am Assoc Petrol Geol, pp 333–351Google Scholar
  26. Hemleben C, Meischner D, Zahn R, Almogi-Labin A, Erlenkeuser H, Hiller B (1996) Three hundred eighty thousand year long stable isotope and faunal records from the Red Sea: influence of global sea level change on hydrography. Paleoceanography 11:147–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hughes GW, Beydoun ZR (1992) The Red Sea—Gulf of Aden: biostratigraphy, lithostratigraphy and palaeoenvironments. J Petrol Geol 15:135–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hutchinson RW, Engels GG (1972) Tectonic evolution in the southern Red Sea and its possible significance to older rifted continental margins. Geol Soc Am Bull 83:2989–3002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Izzeldin AY (1987) Seismic, gravity and magnetic surveys in the central part of the Red Sea: their interpretation and implications for the structure and evolution of the Red Sea. Tectonophysics 143:269–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jiang H, Farrar JT, Beardsley RC, Chen R, Chen C (2009) Zonal surface wind jets across the Red Sea due to mountain gap forcing along both sides of the Red Sea. Geophys Res Lett 36. Article L19605.  https://doi.org/10.11029/12009GL040008
  31. Johnson TC, Hamilton EL, Berger WH (1977) Physical properties of calcareous ooze: control by dissolution at depth. Mar Geol 24:259–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kenter JAM, Schlager W (1989) A comparison of shear strength in calcareous and siliclastic marine sediments. Mar Geol 88:145–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lehner B, Verdin K, Jarvis A (2008) New global hydrography derived from spaceborne elevation data. EOS Trans Am Geophys Union 89:93–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ligi M, Bortoluzzi G (1989) PLOTMAP: geohysical and geological applications of good standard quality cartographic software. Comput Geosc 15:519–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Luyendyk BP (1970) Origin and history of abyssal hills in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Geol Soc Am Bull 81:2237–2260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Macgregor DS (2012) The development of the Nile drainage system: integration of onshore and offshore evidence. Petrol Geosci 18:417–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Maillard C, Soliman G (1986) Hydrography of the Red Sea and exchanges with the Indian Ocean in summer. Oceanol Acta 9:249–269Google Scholar
  38. Marks NS (1981) Sedimentation on New Ocean crust: the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 37°N. Mar Geol 43:65–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mart Y, Ross DA (1987) Post-Miocene rifting and diapirism in the northern Red Sea. Mar Geol 74:173–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Martinez F, Cochran JR (1988) Structure and tectonics in the northern Red Sea: catching a continental margin between rifting and drifting. Tectonophys 150:1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McCave IN (2005) Deposition from suspension. In: Selley RC, Cocks LRM, Malone MJ (eds) Encyclopedia of geology. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 8–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Miller PM, Barakat H (1988) Geology of the safaga concession, northern Red Sea. Egypt Tectonophy 153:123–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Milliman JD, Ross DA, Ku T-L (1969) Precipitation and lithification of deep-sea carbonates in the Red Sea. J Sed Petrol 39:724–736Google Scholar
  44. Mitchell DJW, Allen RB, Salama W, Abouzakm A (1992) Tectonostratigraphic framework and hydrocarbon potential of the Red Sea. J Petrol Geol 15:187–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mitchell NC (1993) A model for attenuation of backscatter due to sediment accumulations and its application to determine sediment thickness with GLORIA sidescan sonar. J Geophys Res 98:22477–22493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mitchell NC (1995) Diffusion transport model for pelagic sediments on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. J Geophys Res 100(B10):19,991–920,009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mitchell NC (2016) Comment on: “The spatial extent of the Deep Western Boundary Current into the Bounty Trough: new evidence from parasound sub-bottom profiling” by Horn and Uenzelmann Neben. Marine Geophysical Research 37:371–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mitchell NC, Huthnance JM (2013) Geomorphological and geochemical evidence (230Th anomalies) for cross-equatorial currents in the central Pacific. Deep-Sea Res I 78:24–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mitchell NC, Ligi M, Farrante V, Bonatti E, Rutter E (2010) Submarine salt flows in the central Red Sea. Geol Soc Am Bull 122:701–713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mitchell NC, Ligi M, Feldens P, Hübscher C (2017) Deformation of a young salt giant: regional topography of the Red Sea Miocene evaporites. Basin Res 29:352–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mitchell NC, Ligi M, Rohling EJ (2015) Red Sea isolation history suggested by Plio-Pleistocene seismic reflection sequences. Earth Planet Sci Lett 430:387–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mitchell NC, Searle RC (1998) Fault scarp statistics at the Galapagos spreading centre from deep tow data. Mar Geophys Res 20:183–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mitchell NC, Stewart ICF (2018) The modest seismicity of the northern Red Sea rift. Geophys J Int 214(3):1507–1523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Morgenstern NR (1967) Submarine slumping and the initiation of turbidity currents. In: Richards AF (ed) Marine Geotechnique. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, pp 189–210Google Scholar
  55. Nicholls JF, Toumi R, Stenchikov G (2015) Effects of unsteady mountain-gap winds on eddies in the Red Sea. Atm Sci Lett 16:279–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Quadfasel D, Baudner H (1993) Gyre-scale circulation cells in the Red Sea. Oceanol Acta 16:221–229Google Scholar
  57. Richter H, Makris J, Rihm R (1991) Geophysical observations offshore Saudi Arabia: seismic and magnetic observations. Tectonophysics 198:297–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Roberts AP, Rohling EJ, Grant KM, Larrasoaña JC, Liu Q (2011) Atmospheric dust variability from Arabia and China over the last 500,000 years. Quat Sci Rev 30:3537–3541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rohling, Grant K, Hemleben C, Kucera M, Roberts AP, Schmeltzer I, Schulz H, Siccha M, Siddall M, Trommer G (2008) New constraints on the timing of sea level fluctuations during early to middle marine isotope stage 3. Paleocean 23. Article PA3219.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2008PA001617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rohling EJ, Fenton M, Jorissen FJ, Bertrand P, Ganssen G, Caulet JP (1998) Magnitudes of sea-level lowstands of the past 500,000 years. Nature 394:162–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rohling EJ, Grant K, Bolshaw M, Roberts AP, Siddall M, Hemleben C, Kucera M (2009) Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles. Nat Geosci 2:500–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ross DA, Schlee J (1973) Shallow structure and geologic development of the southern Red Sea. Geol Soc Am Bull 84:3827–3848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Savoyat E, Shiferaw A, Balcha T (1989) Petroleum exploration in the Ethiopian Red Sea. J Petrol Geol 12:187–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schwab WC, Lee HJ, Kayen RE, Quinterno PJ, Tate GB (1988) Erosion and slope instability on Horizon Guyot, Mid-Pacific mountains. Geo-Mar Lett 8:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Seibold E, Futterer D (1982) Sediment dynamics on the northwest African continental margin. In: Scrutton RA, Talwani M (eds) The ocean floor. John Wiley, New York, pp 147–163Google Scholar
  66. Sofianos SS, Johns EW (2003) An oceanic general circulation model (OGCM) investigation of the Red Sea circulation, 2. Three-dimensional circulation in the Red Sea. J Geophys Res 107. Paper 3066.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2001JC001185
  67. Sofianos SS, Johns EW (2007) Observations of the summer Red Sea circulation. J Geophys Res 112. Paper C06025.  https://doi.org/10.01029/02006JC003886
  68. Steckler MS, Omar GI (1994) Controls on erosional retreat of the uplifted rift flanks at the Gulf of Suez and northern Red Sea. J Geophys Res 99:12159–12173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Stewart ICF (2007) Earthquake risk in western Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea from seismic moment. Saudi Geological Survey, Jeddah, Technical report SGS-TR-2007-4, 41 pGoogle Scholar
  70. Stoffers P, Kühn R (1974) Red Sea evaporites: a petrographic and geochemical study. In: Whitmarsh RB, Weser OE, Ross DA et al. (eds) Initial reports of the deep sea drilling project, vol 23. US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC, pp 821–847Google Scholar
  71. Stoffers P, Ross DA (1974) Sedimentary history of the Red Sea. In: Whitmarsh RB, Weser OE, Ross DA et al (eds) Initial reports of the deep sea drilling project, vol 23. US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC, pp 849–865Google Scholar
  72. Tominaga M, Lyle M, Mitchell NC (2011) Seismic interpretation of pelagic sedimentation regimes in the 18–53 Ma eastern equatorial Pacific: basin-scale sedimentation and infilling of abyssal valleys. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 12. Paper Q03004.  https://doi.org/10.01029/02010GC003347
  73. Wessel P, Smith WHF (1991) Free software helps map and display data. EOS Trans Am Geophys Union 72:441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Westaway R, Smith RB (1989) Strong ground motion in normal-faulting earthquakes. Geophys J 96:529–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Whitmarsh RB, Weser OE, Ross DA (1974) Initial reports of the deep sea drilling project, 23B. US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Yao F, Hoteit I, Pratt LJ, Bower AS, Zhai P, Köhl A, Gopalakrishnan G (2014a) Seasonal overturning circulation in the Red Sea: 1. Model validation and summer circulation. J Geophys Res 119:2238–2262.  https://doi.org/10.1002/2013JC009004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Yao F, Hoteit I, Pratt LJ, Bower AS, Köhl A, Gopalakrishnan G, Rivas D (2014b) Seasonal overturning circulation in the Red Sea: 2. Winter circulation. J Geophys Res 119:2263–2289.  https://doi.org/10.1002/2013JC009331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zahran HM, Sokolov V, Roobol MJ, Stewart ICF, El-Hadidy Youssef S, Hadidy M E (2016) On the development of a seismic source zonation model for seismic hazard assessment in western Saudi Arabia. J Seismol 20:747–769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Zhai P, Bower A (2013) The response of the Red Sea to a strong wind jet near the Tokar Gap in summer. J Geophys Res 118:422–434.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2012JC008444CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil C. Mitchell
    • 1
  • Marco Ligi
    • 2
  • Najeeb M. A. Rasul
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Istituto di Scienze Marine, Consiglio Nazionale delle RichercheBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Center for Marine Geology, Saudi Geological SurveyJeddahSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations