Effects of Cretaceous plume and convergence, and Early Tertiary tectonomagmatic quiescence on the central and southern Levant continental margin
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This study synthesizes geological and geophysical evidence concerning the structure and character of the central and southern Jurassic Levant continental margin during Cretaceous–Tertiary time. From the beginning of the Cretaceous and until Cenomanian time, the Levant margin was strongly affected by extensional tectonics, cyclical igneous activity and rifting coupled with thermal and vertical fluctuations. It is suggested here that during the Senonian–Maastrichtian convergence of Afro-Arabia and the Mesotethys, and the Tauride part of Eurasia, the Herodotus basin oceanic crust subducted along the Eratosthenes Arc, below the short-lived abandoned Levant back-arc basin. Such a plate configuration assumes regional shear zones, as follows: (1) between the Eratosthenes Arc from the south and the Kyrenia Arc from the north: the NW–SE Carmel–Azraq–Sirhan fault system; (2) between the Sinai and the African plates: the Suez fault system; (3) between the Mesotethys and the African plates: the northern Egypt–Sinai–Negev west–east transversal fault system. Distinct tectonomagmatic quiescence between Late Maastrichtian and Late Eocene time allowed thermal relaxation and subsidence of the Levant margin until the apparent achievement of local isostatic compensation and the consequent development of the longest transgression over the Afro-Arabian ramp.