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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Oct 2018

Research article | 08 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

Structural expression of a fading rift front, a case study from the Oligo-Miocene Irbid rift of northwest Arabia

Reli Wald1, Amit Segev2, Zvi Ben-Avraham3, and Uri Schattner1 Reli Wald et al.
  • 1The Dr. Moses Strauss Department of Marine Geosciences, Leon H. Charney School of marine sciences, Haifa University, Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel
  • 2Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malkhe Israel, Jerusalem 95501, Israel
  • 3Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel

Abstract. Not all continental rifts mature to form a young ocean. The mechanism and duration of their cessation depend on the crustal structure, modifications in plate kinematics, lithospheric thermal response, or intensity of sub-crustal flow (e.g., plume activity). The cessation is recorded in the structure and stratigraphy of the basins that develop during the rifting process. This architecture is lost due to younger tectonic inversion, severe erosion or even burial into greater depths that forces their detection by low-resolution geophysical imaging. The current study focuses on a uniquely preserved Oligo-Miocene rift that was subsequently pirated by a crossing transform fault system and as a result died out. We integrate all geological, geophysical and results from previous studies from across the Southern Galilee to unravel the structural development of the Irbid failing rift, of Northwest Arabia. Despite tectonic, magmatic and geomorphologic activity postdating the rifting, its subsurface structure is preserved at depths of up to 1km. Our results show that a series of basins subsided at the rift front, across the southern Galilee. We constrain the timing and extent of their subsidence into two main stages, based on facies analysis and chronology of magmatism. Between 20–9Ma grabens and half-grabens subsided within a larger releasing jog, following an NW direction of a deeper presumed Principal Displacement Zone. The basins continued to subside until a transition from the Red Sea to Dead Sea stress regime occurred. With the transition, the basins ceased to subside as a rift, while the Dead Sea Fault split the jog structure. Between 9–5Ma basin subsidence accentuated and an uplift of their margins accompanied their overall elongation to the NNE. Our study provides for the first time a structural as well as tectonic context to the southern Galilee basins. Based on this case study we suggest that the rift did not fail but rather faded and was taken over by a more dominant stress regime. Otherwise, these basins of a failing rift could have simply died out peacefully.

Reli Wald et al.
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Reli Wald et al.
Reli Wald et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Special issue
Short summary
Plate-scale rifting is frequently expressed by the subsidence of structural basins along an axis. Postdating tectonic and magmatic activity however, mostly obscure them. Our 3D subsurface imaging and facies analysis down to 1 km, reveal uniquely preserved Galilean basins subsiding along a failing rift front in two main stages. Rifting within a large releasing jog (20–9 Ma) followed by localized grabenization off the Dead Sea fault plate boundary (9–5 Ma), prevent them from dying out peacefully.
Plate-scale rifting is frequently expressed by the subsidence of structural basins along an...