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Geophysical Studies of the Lithosphere Along the Dead Sea Transform

  • Michael WeberEmail author
  • Khalil Abu-Ayyash
  • Zvi Ben-Avraham
  • Sungchan Choi
  • Jaser Darwish
  • Radwan El-Kelani
  • Zvi Garfunkel
  • Hans-Jürgen Götze
  • Abraham Hofstetter
  • Ivan Koulakov
  • Gabi Laske
  • James Mechie
  • Uwe Meyer
  • Ayman Mohsen
  • Alexei Petrunin
  • Ernesto Meneses Rioseco
  • Trond Ryberg
  • Georg Rümpker
  • Stephan V. Sobolev
  • DESERT & DESIRE Groups
Chapter
Part of the Modern Approaches in Solid Earth Sciences book series (MASE, volume 6)

Abstract

In this chapter we report on the deep structure of the Dead Sea Transform (DST) as derived from geophysical observations and numerical modelling, calibrated by geological and geodynamic evidence.

We use seismics, seismology and gravity to study the crust and lithosphere of the Dead Sea Transform (DST) system. These observations are integrated with 3D thermo-mechanical modelling of the evolution of the DST through time to understand the deeper structure of the DST. The three seismic profiles crossing the DST from the Mediterranean in the West to the Jordan highlands in the East show an increase in Moho depth from about 25 km to about 35 km; with only minor topography. This depth increase of about 10 km of the Moho from West to East is also found in tomographic images using regional and teleseismic events, which shows additionally a N – S trending thickening of the crust under the Arava/Araba Fault (AF). In the Dead Sea Basin (DSB) proper the imaging of the Moho is complicated by the presence of the Lisan Salt dome. From these results and other evidence we conclude that the Dead Sea basin is a mostly upper crustal feature with a decoupling zone at about 20 km depth. Using SKS waves we find below the Moho under the DST a narrow, ca. 20 km wide, vertical decoupling zone reaching into the mantle, representing the boundary layer between the African and Arabian plates. This observation agrees with the results from the study of surface waves that also show a region of reduced S-velocities under the DST, reaching down into the lithosphere. Whereas the lithosphere thins gradually east of the DST from N to S from ca. 80 to ca. 67 km, below about 120 km depth little structure can be observed in tomographic images.

The abovementioned observational constraints can all be fitted with the classical pull-apart model, if the lithosphere was thermally eroded to 80 km thickness about 20 Ma ago, combined with weak rheologies for crust and upper mantle. The most likely explanation of the features described is thus a thinning of the lithosphere around the DST in the Late Cenozoic, likely following by rifting and spreading of the Red Sea.

Keywords

Geophysics Modelling Moho Arava/Araba fault Lithosphere Upper mantle 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The work presented here was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Deutsches GeoForschungs-Zentrum Potsdam (GFZ). We thank the editors Z. Garfunkel, Z. Ben-Avraham and E. Kagan, and W. Mooney for their comments to this manuscript. We are grateful to U. ten Brink for providing the model of his studies of the DST and A. Siebert for her help in drafting many of the figures, most of them created with the GMT software (Wessel and Smith 1998). We thank the National Ministry of Infrastructure of Israel, the Natural Resources Authority (NRA) of Jordan, the German embassies in Tel Aviv and Amman and the An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine, for their support during the field work. We thank our contractors the Geophysical Institute of Israel, the Site Group (Jordan) and the Chemical and Mining Industries (Jordan) for their excellent work under difficult logistic conditions. The instruments for the field work were provided by the Geophysical Instrument Pool of the GFZ. For more information on DESERT and DESIRE, respectively, see:

http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/portal/gfz/Struktur/Departments/Department+2/sec22/projects/past_projects/DESERT

http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/portal/gfz/Struktur/Departments/Department+2/sec22/projects/current_projects/DESIRE

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Weber
    • 1
    Email author
  • Khalil Abu-Ayyash
    • 2
  • Zvi Ben-Avraham
    • 3
    • 4
  • Sungchan Choi
    • 5
  • Jaser Darwish
    • 2
  • Radwan El-Kelani
    • 6
  • Zvi Garfunkel
    • 7
  • Hans-Jürgen Götze
    • 5
  • Abraham Hofstetter
    • 8
    • 9
  • Ivan Koulakov
    • 10
  • Gabi Laske
    • 11
  • James Mechie
    • 1
  • Uwe Meyer
    • 12
  • Ayman Mohsen
    • 1
  • Alexei Petrunin
    • 1
  • Ernesto Meneses Rioseco
    • 13
  • Trond Ryberg
    • 1
  • Georg Rümpker
    • 14
  • Stephan V. Sobolev
    • 1
  • DESERT & DESIRE Groups
    • 1
  1. 1.Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum, GFZPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Natural Resources AuthorityAmmanJordan
  3. 3.Department of Geophysical, Atmospheric and Planetary SciencesTel Aviv UniversityRamat Aviv, Tel AvivIsrael
  4. 4.Charney School of Marine SciencesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  5. 5.Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu KielKielGermany
  6. 6.An-Najah National UniversityNablusPalestine
  7. 7.The Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemGivat RamIsrael
  8. 8.Geophysical Institute of IsraelLodIsrael
  9. 9.Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la TerreUniversity of StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  10. 10.Institute of Petroleum Geology and GeophysicsNovosibirskRussia
  11. 11.University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  12. 12.Bundesanstalt fuer Geowissenschaften und RohstoffeHannoverGermany
  13. 13.Leibniz-Institut fuer Angewandte GeophysikHannoverGermany
  14. 14.Goethe-UniversitaetFrankfurt am MainGermany

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