The continental shelf of Israel ranges in width from 3 to 25 km. It is underlain by 4,000-9,000 m of Mesozoic and Tertiary strata that in part represent a westward extension of the better known onshore sequence of post-Triassic rocks.
Structurally as well, the features mapped offshore are only in part extensions of the major elements onshore. The basal Pliocene “M” reflector of the Mediterranean basin is present across the Israel shelf and extends onshore under the coastal plain, where it is also a prominent seismic feature; it has been identified in many boreholes both onshore and offshore as an evaporite sequence, principally anhydrite. Deeper structure, mapped from air gun CDP records, confirms that multiple periods of folding, uplift, and erosion, succeeded by renewed subsidence with downfaulting, interrupted the predominantly open-marine sedimentation on the shelf. Throughout its known (post-Triassic) history, the present shelf area straddled the transition zone from epicratonic sedimentation on the northwest flank of the Arabian shield to deeper water sedimentation in the ancestral Mediterranean.
Primary prospects for commercial hydrocarbon accumulations are the carbonate rocks of the Jurassic and Cretaceous, with secondary possibilities in Lower Cretaceous sandstones and Neogene deposits.