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Messinian Incised-Valley Systems in the Mediterranean along the Egyptian Coastline: Paleogeography and Internal Fill: Evidence from Cores and Seismic


John C. Dolson1, Randi S. Martinsen2, Zarif El Sisi3

(1) bp Egypt, Cairo, Egypt (2) University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY (3) GUPGO, Cairo, Egypt

 The Mediterranean's Messinian salinity crisis triggered development of 5 major paleo-drainage systems along the northern Egyptian coastline. These systems extend up to 100 km basin-ward beyond earlier formed Tortonian deltas. The morphology and reservoir fill of each system is controlled by 1) the underlying structural fabric 2) sub-crop lithology and 3) local provenance.

The Abu Madi system consists of Grand Canyon scale valley networks up to 500 meters deep and 100 Km wide. Multiple episodes of erosion occurred and internal fill consists dominantly of stacked successions of fluvial, tidally influenced fluvial, bayhead delta and central basin mudstone facies. There appear to be no estuary mouth sandstone facies, suggesting an absence of longshore sand transport. Dipmeters and cores indicate valley wall collapse was frequent. The Rosetta system consists of braided and coarse-grained meander belt sandstones that inter-finger north-northwestward with coastal sabkhas.

To the west, the Moghra escarpment drainages overlie a Precambrian age transform fault. Here, at least 10 canyons terminate abruptly northward into alluvial fans and a salt basin. Along the eastern edge of the Nile Delta, a trellis shaped shale-filled valley network (Seti East drainage) lies southwest of the Temsah structural belt. Lastly, 200+ meter deep canyon incisions north of the Sinai massif terminate in submarine fan systems along the coastline of Israel.

Hydrocarbon exploitation for additional smaller reserves within these trends remains excellent and some large opportunities exist within the undrilled deep-water province.