Crustal structure of the Levant Basin, eastern Mediterranean

Zvi Ben-Avraham*, Avihu Ginzburg, Jannis Makris, Lev Eppelbaum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A seismic refraction/wide-angle reflection experiment was undertaken in the Levant Basin, eastern Mediterranean. Two roughly east-west profiles extend from the continental shelf of Israel toward the Levant Basin. The northern profile crosses the Eratosthenes Seamount and the southern profile crosses several distinct magnetic anomalies. The marine operation used 16 ocean bottom seismometers deployed along the profiles with an air gun array and explosive charges as energy sources. The results of this study strongly suggest the existence of oceanic crust under portions of the Levant Basin and continental crust under the Eratosthenes Seamount. The seismic refraction data also indicate a large sedimentary sequence, 10-14 km thick, in the Levant Basin and below the Levant continental margin. Assuming the crust is of Cretaceous age, this gives a fairly high sedimentation rate. The sequence can be divided into several units. A prominent unit is the 4.2 km/s layer, which is probably composed of the Messinian evaporites. Overlying the evaporitic layer are layers composed of Plio-Pleistocene sediments, whose velocity is 2.0 km/s. The refraction profiles and gravity and magnetic models indicate that a transition from a two layer continental to a single-layer oceanic crust takes place along the Levant margin. The transition in the structure along the southern profile is located beyond the continental margin and it is quite gradual. The northern profile, north of the Carmel structure, presents a different structure. The continental crust is much thinner there and the transition in the crustal structure is more rapid. The crustal thinning begins under western Galilee and terminates at the continental slope. The results of the present study indicate that the Levant Basin is composed of distinct crustal units and that the Levant continental margin is divided into at least two provinces of different crustal structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2002


FundersFunder number
Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Israel
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and DevelopmentI-53-226.8/87


    • Crustal structure
    • Eastern mediterranean
    • Gravity and magnetics
    • Seismic refraction


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