AAPG Geoscience Technology Workshop

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A New Approach to the Structure and Evolution of Israel, Southeastern Mediterranean, With Relations to Oil and Gas Exploration


Israel's subsurface geology is fairly well known today, being based on over 400 exploratory wells penetrating Early Paleozoic to Tertiary rocks, and on numerous seismic line profiles. Both the Paleotethys and the Neo Tethys sequences are found in Israel. The Paleotethys sequence is over 3,000 meter and clearly seen in seismic profiles in central and northern but is missing in southern Israel. The Neo Tethys sequence is the main stratigraphic sequence in Israel and one of the thickest worldwide. It is nearly a continuous section, with minor time gaps, attaining a thickness of 10,000m and having a great variability of environments of deposition. During this time span Israel was located in the middle of the Tethys, with similar stratigraphic section and tectonic events to both east and mainly to the west sides of the Tethys Ocean. Neo Tethys consists of four tectonic phases separated by distinct tectonic events. (1) The Platform phase (Early Permian to Mid-Triassic), (2) the Rifting phase (Late Anisian to Domerian), (3) the Drifting phase (Domerian to Turonian), (4) the Alpine (Syrian Arc) folding phase (Senonian to Middle Eocene). The onset of the Alpine phase, which overprints all previous structures, left its stratigraphic evidence in all the Cretaceous and later formations. Two known rifting episode exists - Middle to Late Triassic rifting basin, and Early Jurassic rifting. During the Drifting phase (3) a passive continental margin was developing in the Eastern Mediterranean. This passive continental margin is nearly identical to that of the northwest Africa, northeast America and both west and south Europe. Two old tectonic lineaments divide Israel into provinces and blocks. The oldest group is local lines, active in several pulses, since the Paleozoic to recent, dividing the area into distinct geological provinces. The second group of lineaments is active since Late Anisian to recent, and related to the forming of the passive continental margin and development of the Eastern Mediterranean coast line. There is a clear relationship between the oil and gas findings and the Neotethys tectonic phases and provinces in Israel.