AAPG Geoscience Technology Workshop

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Diversion and Morphology of Submarine Channels in Response to Regional Slopes and Localized Salt Tectonics, Levant Basin


In the Levant Basin, submarine channels are abundant around the Nile deep-sea fan (NDSF), an area which is also affected by salt tectonics related to the Messinian salt giant. Here we focus on the relationship between submarine channels and obstacles formed by salt tectonics. Initially, we use methods developed for terrestrial morphological analysis and quantify channel sinuosity, width and slope in search for consistent relationships between morphometric parameters and channel response to obstacles. However, this traditional analysis did not yield robust conclusions. Then, we apply two new morphometric parameters suggested here to express the distortion of channels by obstacles: incident angle (α), defined as the acute angle between the regionally influenced channel direction and the strike of the tectonic obstacle and diversion angle (Ω), defined as the angle between the direction of the regional bathymetric slope and the average direction of the channel. These parameters illustrate the influence of the regional-scale basin geometry and the superimposed tectonic-influenced seabed patterns, on channel development. We found hyperbolic relationships between incident angle (α) and diversion angle (Ω) in which channels flowing approximately parallel (α≈0°) to tectonic folds are (obviously) not diverted; channels nearly orthogonal (α≈90°) to obstacles, crosscut them right through and, again, not diverted much. In contrast, channels with a general direction diagonal to the obstacles (α≈40°), are diverted by ten degrees (Ω≈10°). This diversion accumulates along large distances and significantly influences the regional development of channels around the NDSF. Noteworthy, this phenomenon of channel diversion, indirectly deteriorate normal slope-sinuosity relationships known from terrestrial studies. In light of these findings, we suggest that these new parameters can be applied to other basins, where submarine channels interact with seabed obstacles.