Origin, dimensions, and distribution of remobilized carbonate deposits in a tectonically active zone, Eocene Thebes Formation, Sinai, Egypt

Hilary J. Corlett, Eivind Bastesen, Rob L. Gawthorpe, Jesal Hirani, David Hodgetts, Cathy Hollis, Atle Rotevatn

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    Abstract

    Determination of the distribution and mechanism for carbonate-dominated mass transport sediments is often compromised by the scale and access to exposures. Consequently, many studies lack the resolution to capture the heterogeneity and dimensions of mass transport deposits. This study documents the size, shape, and stratal assemblage of remobilized carbonates in the Eocene Thebes Formation in the Hammam Faraun Fault Block (HFFB) of western Sinai, revealing the complexities of carbonate mass transport deposits at sub-seismic scale. Present day pseudo three-dimensional exposure of the Thebes Formation in a large fault block, formed during the opening of the Gulf of Suez, allowed for lateral and down-dip measurement of slope and basinal facies in the field and from photos. Remobilized facies were digitized in the photos and evaluated using image analysis software, a technique with a wide range of applications to outcrop studies of sedimentary architecture. Debris flow deposits in the lower section of the Thebes Formation comprises clasts with differing fossil assemblages. A relative sea level rise at the start of upper Thebes Formation deposition resulted in basinal sediments comprising periodic incursions of high-density turbidite grainstones encased within a background of planktonic foraminiferal wackestones. Foraminiferal assemblages of remobilized facies imply multiple sources on the carbonate platform, demonstrating the effect of short-lived tectonism on slope instability and deposition of mass transport deposits. The results of the study confirm that tectonism associated with the Syrian Arc Fold Belt, which altered the style of basin sedimentation between Egypt and Syria, persisted into the Eocene at least as far south as Wadi Araba in the western desert and Hammam Faraun in Sinai. In addition, the shape, size, and extent of the two dominant remobilized facies, debris flows and grainstone turbidites are influenced by their mud-rich versus grainy compositions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44-63
    Number of pages20
    JournalSedimentary Geology
    Volume372
    Early online date7 May 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

    • Carbonate turbidite
    • Debris flow
    • Mass transport
    • Remobilized carbonate
    • Syrian Arc

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