During the Mesozoic, movements in the region of the present-day Red Sea were primarily epeirogenic in character, accompanied by deep-seated fracturing and intermittent volcanism. At the end of the lower Eocene, a stress couple inferred to have developed in the Hermon mountain region (Lebanon) caused horizontal displacement of crustal blocks, generation of compressional forces in the north and concomitant tensional stresses in the southern part of the region, and opening of the Red Sea-Suez gulf depression (paar) along the lines of separation between the Sinai, Arabian, and northeast African blocks. The depression continued to widen and deepen, but remained closed at its southern end until separation of a fourth block, the so-called Horn of Africa, commencing in Miocene time, and opening of the Bab el Mandab strait in the Pliocene.

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