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Numerous, Early to Middle Miocene reefs cropping out along the northwest (Egyptian) coast of the Red Sea have variable geometries which were determined mainly by tectonics and relative sea-level changes. Distributed between Abu Ghusun in the south to Esh Mellaha in the north, these Burdigalian-Langhian reefs are frequently multiple, most being located near the crests of structural blocks. Several have grown on submarine fans. Although one reef complex (Sharm el Qibli) slopes to the west, most reefs face towards the rift axis. Stacking of individual reef bodies within any given complex may be essentially lateral, the reef at Sharm el Luli exhibiting clear down-stepping relating to structural uplift. Others (Zug el Bohar) show marked lateral accretion while the spectacular complex at Abu Shaar el Qibli is mainly vertical. Because of repeated Miocene faulting, certain reef bodies are preserved mainly in the form of olistoliths (Abu Ghusun) or as coarse reef debris deposited on the periplatform talus, as on the eastern flank of Abu Shaar el Qibli.

Reef distribution appears to have changed during rift evolution. Early Miocene reefs are located on structural blocks separated from the western periphery of the rift. However, with progressive deepening of the Red Sea rift, blocks and associated reefs have been drowned although less subsidence within the Gulf of Suez has favoured the local survival of offshore reefs. Elsewhere, modern reefs fringe much of the continental shoreline.

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