Detrital zircon and rutile U–Pb, Hf isotopes and heavy mineral assemblages of Israeli Miocene sands: Fingerprinting the Arabian provenance of the Levant

Navot Morag*, Dov Avigad, Axel Gerdes, Avishai Abbo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Isolated, Miocene continental basins scattered over Israel and Jordan represent the remnants of a continental-wide fluvial system, which originated in Arabia and transported siliciclastic sediments westward to the deep Levant Basin. These basins define two geographically separated sedimentary provinces. The detrital zircon age spectra in both provinces are dominated by Neoproterozoic U-Pb ages (550–1,000 Ma), resembling those of Paleozoic-Mesozoic sandstones exposed along the uplifted Red Sea Rift flank. However, while the southern province exhibits two prominent peaks at ~600 and ~1,000 Ma, similar to those seen in Cambrian-Ordovician sandstones in southern Israel and Jordan, the northern province shows an additional significant age peak at ~800 Ma and its overall spectrum resembles that of Devonian sandstones in northern Saudi Arabia. These variations distinguish the two Miocene clastic outliers as pertaining to two separate, NW-directed transport systems delivering siliciclastic sediments from Arabia towards the deep Levant Basin. The detrital zircon U-Pb-Hf signal of the Israeli Miocene clastic units differs from that of the River Nile, particularly in the lack of Cenozoic-Mesozoic-aged zircons in the former. This allows us to distinguish the properties of the fluvial system that existed in Arabia, on the eastern side of the Red Sea, from that of the River Nile that drained its western flanks. While it is commonly accepted that the (proto-)Nile River played a key role in the Levant Basin fill, the eastern fluvial system that prevailed on the Arabian side may have been also important.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1967-1984
Number of pages18
JournalBasin Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript benefited greatly from constructive reviews by I. Millar and E. Garzanti. The authors thank N. Kedem for sharing his Hezeva Formation samples. R. Bodzin is thanked for his assistance in the SEM work, Y. Geller for carrying out part of the heavy minerals separation work and R. Albert Roper for his assistance in U‐Pb data processing. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant no. 512/17 and by the Ministry of Energy & Water Resources, Israel (contract no. 215‐17‐22).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Association of Sedimentologists and European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Arabian plate
  • Levant Basin
  • paleogeography
  • provenance
  • zircon U-Pb geochronology


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