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Initiation of Arabian Plate Exposure During the Oligocene, Evidence from the Galilee, Israel

Abstract

Exposure of the Arabian plate during the Oligocene induced widespread erosion, leaving scarce outcrops across Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Timing of the exposure is reasonably constrained by the prominent regional hiatus. However, its development through time, rate, paleo-topography are unknown in northern Israel, as well as the nature of land-marine interplay during this forced regression. Here we present an interpretation of 75 multi-channel seismic reflection profiles, combined with 67 boreholes and surface geology. Data show the ∼80 km wide Syrian Arc fold belt, crossing the region in a NNE trend. Our analysis suggests that the top of the belt is truncated down to Lower Cretaceous formations, leaving no remnants across the belt. Thickness of the hiatus exceeds 1300 m, but includes an approximated 50–200 m missing section of the Senonian erosion. Data from the flanks of the belt show accumulation of a ∼250 m thick Oligocene section preserved in deep grabens that predated the uplift and truncation. Sediments vary between marls, limy sandstones, limy chalks and detrital limestone. This section thickens toward the nearby basins: Mediterranean in the west and Mesopotamian in the east. Seismic patterns of this section resemble typical clastic sedimentation across a continental margin. We deduce that the section accumulated upon the then mildly elevated fold belt, while the majority of the clastic material was transported into the nearby basins. The fold belt divided between these two marine basins. Northward propagation of its exposure marks the terminal stages of closure of the Indian gateway.