Abstract

Field data from the Oligocene–Miocene Gulf of Suez rift demonstrate that coeval growth faults, folds, and transfer zones exerted a major control on synrift stratigraphic sequence development. Growth folds in the Suez rift are related to steeply dipping normal faults that propagated upward, resulting in broad, upward-widening monoclines in overlying strata. Folding during fault propagation was accommodated by layer-parallel slip and detachment along mudstone horizons as well as by normal and rare reverse secondary faults that propagated away from the master fault. The eventual propagation of the master fault through to the surface left the steep limb of the monocline and most of the secondary faults in the hanging wall.

This evolving structural style exerted a marked control on the geometry and stacking patterns of coeval synrift sediments. Synrift sediments display onlap and intraformational unconformities toward the growth monoclines and buried faults, whereas they diverge into broadly synclinal expanded sections away from the growth monocline. Continued movement across buried faults resulted in the progressive rotation of the monoclinal limb and associated synrift sediments, each successively younger sequence dipping basinward at a shallower angle than the previous one. The resulting synrift geometries differ significantly from stratal geometries normally anticipated adjacent to normal faults. Along-strike variations in facies stacking patterns are also commonly associated with decreasing displacement across faults and associated folds toward low-relief transfer zones. Data from other rift basins indicate that fault-propagation folds are not unique to the Gulf of Suez.

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