DESERT Dead Sea Rift Transect: An interdisciplinary research project to study the Dead Sea Transform

DOI: 10.2312/GFZ.b103-09084 Publisher: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany

ABSTRACT Since the advent of plate-tectonics the Dead Sea Transform (DST) has been considered a prime site to examine geodynamic processes. It has accommodated a total of 105 km of left-lateral transform motion between the African and Arabian plates since early Miocene (~20 My). Large historical earthquakes on the DST with magnitudes up to 7 and the 1995 Nueiba M7.2 event, as well as ongoing micro-seismic activity show that the DST is a seismically active plate boundary. The DST therefore poses a considerable seismic hazard to Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. The DST segment between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, called Arava/Araba Fault (AF), is studied in DESERT in detail, using a multi-disciplinary and multi-scale approach from the micrometer to the plate-tectonic scale. This volume contains the results of the DESERT project running from 2000 to 2006. It opens with a review paper followed by 33 special papers. Available at (open access).

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    ABSTRACT: The Dead Sea Rift Transect (DESERT 2000) is a multinational and interdisciplinary study of the Dead Sea Rift. The project began field work in February 2000 and the first experiments were successfully completed in May. The seismic, seismological, and magnetotelluric experiments presented here, along with the future electromagnetic, gravity, magnetic, geodynamic, and geological studies, will provide the basic geophysical frame for further geoscientific research. DESERT 2000 should also help to address a fundamental question of plate tectonics: How do shear zones work and what controls them?
    Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union 12/2000; 81(50):609. DOI:10.1029/EO081i050p00609-01
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    ABSTRACT: The Dead Sea Transform (DST) is a major plate boundary separating the African and Arabian plates. It extends over 1000 km from the Red Sea rift in the south to the Taurus collision zone in the north. Present-day left-lateral motion is 4±2 mm/year which is consistent with the kinematics of the Arabian plate assuming a rotation rate of about 0.4°/Ma around a pole at 31.1°N and 26.7°E relative to Africa. The DST became active about 18-21 Ma ago and since then, it has accommodated about 100 km of left-lateral slip. In the area between the Dead Sea and Red Sea the DST is marked by the Arava fault which may have the potential to produce Mw ~ 7 earthquakes along some of its segments about every 200 years. The aim of the interdisciplinary and multi-scale Dead Sea Rift Transect (DESERT) project is to shed light on the question of how large shear zones work. DESERT consists of several geophysical sub-projects that are carried out by partners in Germany, Israel, Jordan and Palestine. Principal investigators are Michael Weber in Germany, Zvi Ben-Avraham in Israel, Khalil Abu-Ayyash in Jordan, and Radwan El-Kelani in the Palestine Territories. One of the sub-projects was a large-scale passive seismic experiment which was conducted in Israel, Jordan, and the territory of the Palestinian Authority. Aims of the project are (a) study of crust and mantle structure with the receiver function (RF) method, (b) travel-time tomography, (c) to investigate azimuthal anisotropy in crust and upper mantle from shear wave splitting, and (d) the study of local seismicity. In this note, we give a brief overview on the field experiment and the data archiving procedure.
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    ABSTRACT: Lithospheric-scale transform faults play an important role in the dynamics of global plate motion. Near-surface deformation fields for such faults are relatively well documented by satellite geodesy, strain measurements and earthquake source studies, and deeper crustal structure has been imaged by seismic profiling. Relatively little is known, however, about deformation taking place in the subcrustal lithosphere--that is, the width and depth of the region associated with the deformation, the transition between deformed and undeformed lithosphere and the interaction between lithospheric and asthenospheric mantle flow at the plate boundary. Here we present evidence for a narrow, approximately 20-km-wide, subcrustal anisotropic zone of fault-parallel mineral alignment beneath the Dead Sea transform, obtained from an inversion of shear-wave splitting observations along a dense receiver profile. The geometry of this zone and the contrast between distinct anisotropic domains suggest subhorizontal mantle flow
    Nature 11/2003; 425(6957):497-501. DOI:10.1038/nature01982 · 41.46 Impact Factor
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