Early flank uplift along the Suez Rift: Implications for the role of mantle plumes and the onset of the Dead Sea Transform

Navot Morag, Itai Haviv, Moshe Eyal, Barry P. Kohn, Shimon Feinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The Suez Rift is the northern extension of the Red Sea Rift and is an ideal location to study young continental breakup tectonics. Yet, despite much effort to constrain the timing of rift flank uplift and extensional exhumation in this region, the emerging picture remains uncertain. Here we present new thermochronologic constraints including apatite (U–Th)/He and fission track data from a transect across the eastern flank of the Suez Rift in SW Sinai. The use of two different thermochronometers in conjunction with thermal history modeling and well constrained kinetic parameters delineates a pronounced episode of relatively rapid cooling at 25-18 Ma followed by subdued post ∼18 Ma cooling. In contrast to previous estimates, this cooling pattern suggests that the most rapid uplift and exhumation phase along the Gulf of Suez took place during the early stage of rift formation, prior to the middle Miocene, with over 2.4 km of exhumation occurring during this stage. Uplift and exhumation along the Suez Rift flank slowed substantially post ∼18 Ma, as deformation migrated to the newly formed plate boundary along the Dead Sea Transform. This finding complements and strengthens previous indications for the initiation timing of the Dead Sea Transform plate boundary. The inferred late Oligocene–early Miocene timing of rapid exhumation, associated with tectonic extension and rift flank uplift coincides with the onset of regional alkali-basalt magmatism, suggesting lithospheric heating prior to the rift formation. This observation, along with the elevated topography around the Sinai triple junction and indications for some pre-rifting uplift, supports a more active mantle plume role in the rifting process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2019


  • (U–Th)/He thermochronology
  • Dead Sea Transform
  • Red Sea Rift
  • continental rifting
  • fission track
  • flank uplift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Early flank uplift along the Suez Rift: Implications for the role of mantle plumes and the onset of the Dead Sea Transform'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this