The crustal structure of the Dead Sea transform

M. Weber*, K. Abu-Ayyash, A. Abueladas, A. Agnon, H. Al-Amoush, A. Babeyko, Y. Bartov, M. Baumann, Z. Ben-Avraham, G. Bock, J. Bribach, R. El-Kelani, A. Förster, H. J. Förster, U. Frieslander, Z. Garfunkel, S. Grunewald, H. J. Götze, V. Haak, Ch HaberlandM. Hassouneh, S. Helwig, A. Hofstetter, K. H. Jäckel, D. Kesten, R. Kind, N. Maercklin, J. Mechie, A. Mohsen, F. M. Neubauer, R. Oberhänsli, I. Qabbani, O. Ritter, G. Rümpker, M. Rybakov, T. Ryberg, F. Scherbaum, J. Schmidt, A. Schulze, S. Sobolev, M. Stiller, H. Thoss, U. Weckmann, K. Wylegalla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


To address one of the central questions of plate tectonics-How do large transform systems work and what are their typical features?-seismic investigations across the Dead Sea Transform (DST), the boundary between the African and Arabian plates in the Middle East, were conducted for the first time. A major component of these investigations was a combined reflection/refraction survey across the territories of Palestine, Israel and Jordan. The main results of this study are: (1) The seismic basement is offset by 3-5 km under the DST, (2) The DST cuts through the entire crust, broadening in the lower crust, (3) Strong lower crustal reflectors are imaged only on one side of the DST, (4) The seismic velocity sections show a steady increase in the depth of the crust-mantle transition (Moho) from ∼26 km at the Mediterranean to ∼39 km under the Jordan highlands, with only a small but visible, asymmetric topography of the Moho under the DST. These observations can be linked to the left-lateral movement of 105 km of the two plates in the last 17 Myr, accompanied by strong deformation within a narrow zone cutting through the entire crust. Comparing the DST and the San Andreas Fault (SAF) system, a strong asymmetry in subhorizontal lower crustal reflectors and a deep reaching deformation zone both occur around the DST and the SAF. The fact that such lower crustal reflectors and deep deformation zones are observed in such different transform systems suggests that these structures are possibly fundamental features of large transform plate boundaries.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)655-681
Number of pages27
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Crustal structure
  • Dead Sea
  • Middle East
  • Shear zones
  • Tectonics
  • Transform faults


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