Salt tectonics in pull-apart basins with application to the Dead Sea Basin

J. Smit, J. P. Brun*, X. Fort, S. Cloetingh, Z. Ben-Avraham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The Dead Sea Basin displays a broad range of salt-related structures that developed in a sinistral strike-slip tectonic environment: en échelon salt ridges, large salt diapirs, transverse oblique normal faults, salt walls and rollovers. Laboratory experiments are used to investigate the mechanics of salt tectonics in pull-apart systems. The results show that in an elongated pull-apart basin the basin fill, although decoupled from the underlying basement by a salt layer, remains frictionally coupled to the boundary. The basin fill, therefore, undergoes a strike-slip shear couple that simultaneously generates en échelon fold trains and oblique normal faults, trending mutually perpendicular. According to the orientation of basin boundaries, sedimentary cover deformation can be dominantly contractional or extensional, at the extremities of pull-apart basins forming either folds and thrusts or normal faults, respectively. These guidelines, applied to the analysis of the Dead Sea Basin, show that the various salt-related structures form a coherent set in the frame of a sinistral strike-slip shearing deformation of the sedimentary basin fill.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2008


  • Dead Sea Basin
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Pull-apart basins
  • Salt tectonics


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