Abstract

The recent huge gas discovery in Early Miocene siliciclastics, offshore Israel, highlighted a new world-class gas province, and has subsequently sparked great interest in the Oligocene–Miocene deep-water sediments of the Levant Basin. Based on a dense network of seismic data, we present two fundamental observations. First, more than half of its sedimentary column accumulated within a mere ∼15% of the basin's life span, i.e. an ∼6-km-thick section accumulated within 37 m.y. (post–Middle Eocene). Second, this young section first accumulated in the deep basin and only then did large amounts of sediments amass along the eastern Levant continental margin. These fundamental observations allude to two feasible source-to-sink scenarios: (1) the thick late Tertiary section is composed of large amounts of terrigenous material that originated in Arabia and was transported via the Israeli margin, and (2) the terrigenous material originated in Africa and was transported northward via the region that eventually evolved into the Nile River cone. Our data emphasize the difficulties of the first scenario and suggest that Africa was the dominant sediment source. This suggestion requires the submarine transport of sediments from offshore North Africa to have been northeastward, and thus raises new questions regarding ocean circulation at a time in which the neo-Tethys was closing and the marine connection to the Mesopotamian Basin gradually ceased.

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