Abstract

The Levant margin, in the subsurface of the eastern Mediterranean area, formed during the early Mesozoic following rifting and subsequent opening of the southern Tethys Ocean. This work describes the stratigraphic evolution of the shelf edge and slope for this margin in southwestern Israel and in the adjacent Mediterranean Sea. The study is based on the interpretation of 27 wells and 92 seismic reflection lines totaling 2000 km (1243 mi). Depositional sequences and sequence boundaries of the Jurassic and the Cretaceous age inferred from seismic reflection terminations, wireline-log stacking patterns, lithofacies, and biostratigraphic data. Six low-order and 22 high-order depositional cycles were identified. Their stratigraphic architecture reflects shifts of depocenters from the basin to its margin, controlled by eustasy and regional subsidence. Aggrading and backstepping of carbonate platforms in the Levant shelf is associated with relative rises in sea level. Progradation of siliciclastic and carbonate slopes toward the basin is related to relative drops in sea level. The stratigraphic framework of the Levant margin presented here is in accordance with recently published Mesozoic sequence stratigraphy of the Arabian platform, therefore, it may be used as a working model for reconstructing other rifted Tethyan margins in the region. This study further emphasizes the reservoir potential of Jurassic and Cretaceous deep-water lowstand wedges offshore Israel, where extensive exploration efforts are currently occurring.

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