Abstract

Although it has been tacitly assumed since the seminal work of Jones in the 1930s that slump folds bear a systematic and meaningful relationship to the slope upon which they were presumably created, there has in reality been very little attempt to objectively verify this association via the collection of regional slump data in a relatively controlled setting. The potential to walk around the intact Dead Sea Basin at c. 425 m below mean sea level provides a perhaps unparalleled opportunity to undertake such verification via the direct examination of slump fold relationships. The collection of slump data in this well-constrained environment, where the seismogenic trigger for slumping is established via earthquake records, and the palaeogeographical controls are also recognizable and clearly link to the present bathymetry and landscape, thereby permits an evaluation of the use of slump folds as indicators of palaeoslope. The Late Pleistocene Lisan Formation cropping out to the west of the Dead Sea contains superb examples of slump folds that systematically face (>95%) and verge (>90%) towards the east. This study employs and evaluates five statistical techniques, including a new mean axial-planar dip (MAD) method, to analyse relationships between the orientation of slump folds and palaeoslopes. We recognize for the first time that the direction of slumping inferred from slump folds and thrusts varies systematically along the entire c. 100 km length of the western Dead Sea Basin. SE-directed slumping is preserved in the north, easterly directed slumping in the central portion and NE-directed slumping at the southern end of the Dead Sea. They are interpreted to form part of a large-scale and newly recognized radial slump system directed towards the depocentre of the precursor to the Dead Sea, and to be triggered by earthquakes associated with seismicity along the Dead Sea Fault.

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