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Abstract

Regional multichannel seismic reflection (MCS) profiles across the Egyptian continental slope, offshore the Nile delta, were recorded during the MEDISIS survey (conducted in 2002 on board the R/V Nadir). The results of this survey allow an interpretation of the overall structure and evolution of this passive continental margin. The MCS data were processed using an amplitude preserving pre-stack depth migration technique, which has the advantage of providing a quantitative, and geometrically correct, image of seismic horizons. Well-defined reflecting events allow the identification of three main seismic units. The upper unit (a 7 km thick) is interpreted as the post-rift sedimentary cover of the margin; it includes an undisturbed Middle Cretaceous to Upper Miocene sedimentary pile, covered by thick Messinian (latest Miocene) salt-rich layers and by Pliocene to Quaternary sediments, locally intensively deformed by gravity tectonics. The underlying intermediate acoustic unit (6 km thick on average) is interpreted as the Mesozoic syn-rift sedimentary cover of the margin; the end of the last rifting event is marked by a strong angular unconformity, tentatively of Aptian age. The lower unit may correspond to the thinned continental crust of Africa (12 km thick on average in the study area) and its pre-rift cover. Its base is identified by strong, discontinuous reflector packages about 23–25 km below sea floor, interpreted as indicative of the Moho.

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