Hydrocarbon traps in the Gulf of Suez, whether of a structural or a stratigraphic type, fundamentally are all products of the highly complex late Cenozoic fault-block mosaic. Understanding the geometry and the evolution of this tilt-block mosaic is the key to further successful exploration in the Gulf.
The major faults forming the Gulf of Suez basin are listric normal faults broken along strike by synchronous cross faults that serve as transform or “transfer” structural elements. The cross faults are a consequence of the inability to form uniform and laterally continuous listric fault surfaces within the mechanically anisotropic and inhomogeneous crystalline basement terrane of the Gulf. The combination of contemporaneous Gulf-parallel listric faults and cross-strike “transfer” faults gives rise to the complex mosaic of polygonal tilt blocks. Vertical variations in the structural behavior result from a synrift stratigraphy dominated by thick marls and evaporites. The ductile synrift rocks exhibit shallow secondary detachments, drape folds, and compaction and/or diapiric structures that are decoupled from, but appear controlled by, the brittle underlying basement-rooted tih-block mosaic.
Lateral stratigraphic variability observed in the Gulf is the consequence of sea level rising and falling relative to the higher structural elements in the tilt-block mosaic. This has resulted in deeply eroded basement highs, clastic apron and perched reef reservoirs associated with the highs, and thick organic-rich marl accumulations in the intervening lows that serve as “kitchen” areas.