Fluvial systems response to rift margin tectonics: Makhtesh Ramon area, southern Israel

Ram Ben-David, Yehuda Eyal, Ezra Zilberman, Dan Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The geomorphic evolution of Makhtesh Ramon, a feather-shaped erosional valley, and the Nahal Neqarot drainage system to the south occurred largely in response to tectonic activity along the Dead Sea Rift and its western shoulder. Remnants of Miocene clastic sediments (Hazeva Formation) deposited on an erosional peneplain that formed over this area during the Oligocene epoch provide a datum plane for reconstructing subsequent fluvial evolution. These clastic remnants are presently located on the shoulders of Makhtesh Ramon at various elevations. The peneplain truncating the Makhtesh Ramon block has been tilted 0.7% northeastward since the Pliocene epoch (post-Hazeva Formation), whereas that of the Neqarot syncline, south of the Ramon, has been tilted 1.2%. The elliptical exposure of friable Lower Cretaceous sandstone, exposed in the core of the truncated Ramon structure, governed the development of a new ENE directed (riftward) drainage system through capture of streams that previously drained toward the Mediterranean Sea to the northwest. Incised fluvial gaps in the southern rim of Makhtesh Ramon and alluvial fan relicts within Makhtesh Ramon attest to original drainage into the Makhtesh from the south. Remnants of the Plio-Pleistocene Arava Conglomerate on the eastern end of the Neqarot syncline contain clasts from rocks exposed within Makhtesh Ramon, also indicating that streams flowed into the Makhtest from the southern Neqarot block through the western gaps, then turning eastward and exiting the Makhtesh via the next (Sha'ar-Ramon) gap to the east. Further down-faulting of the Neqarot block during Mid-Late Pleistocene time led to westward retreat of the Neqarot valley and capture of the last stream flowing northward into the Ramon, leaving the modern Makhtesh Ramon isolated from the southern drainage system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2002


  • Dead Sea Rift Valley
  • Erosion valley
  • Holocene
  • Incision
  • Kurnub and Judea Group
  • Late Miocene
  • Makhtesh Ramon
  • Morphotectonic activity
  • Peneplain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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