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African Association of Women Geoscientists Field Trip

 

Syn-Rift Sedimentation and Tectonics in the Gulf of Suez Basin, Sinai

 

April 17-19, 2008

 

William Bosworth, Apache Egypt Companies

 

 

Overview

 

The Gulf of Suez is one of the world’s best exposed examples of continental rifting. The basin was initially part of the Red Sea – Gulf of Aden rift system, with extension beginning at the end of the Oligocene or earliest Miocene. Later in its history, during the Middle Miocene, it was severed from the Red Sea by the development of the Gulf of Aqaba transform plate boundary. This slowed the rate of extension across the Gulf of Suez and therefore decreased the amount of subsidence. Combined with uplift of the rift shoulders, this resulted in widespread outcroppings of both pre- and syn-rift strata and many structural features. Along the axis of the rift, extensive exploration has found about 10 billion barrels of recoverable hydrocarbons. Subsurface well and seismic data are therefore available to complement the information seen in outcrop.

 

This field trip will examine part of the uplifted rift shoulder of the Gulf of Suez, along the western coast of the Sinai Peninsula. The first morning will be spent driving to our accommodations near Ras Sudr. In the afternoon we will drive to the summit of Gebel Hammam Faraun for an overview of the northern Gulf of Suez rift geometry. On the second day we will examine each of the major syn-rift stratigraphic units, beginning with the basal rift unconformity and working through the section to the youngest Quaternary sediments. We will also observe the details of several major fault zones and large-scale, syn-rift folds. During the morning of the third day we will drive back to Cairo.

 

Our hotel will be located on the beach and swimming can be enjoyed in the evenings after our return from the field. Many of our field stops will be near to the roadway but there will also be a few hikes of one to two kilometers, so appropriate foot gear will be required. The weather in April in Sinai will be warm and sunny with almost no chance for rain, although windstorms are possible.

 

Itinerary

 

April 17th  
Morning:
  • Depart Cairo University at 08:00 AM in 4-wheel drive vehicles.

  • Arrive at Moon Beach Hotel, Ras Sudr at 11:30. Receive rooms and have lunch at the hotel.

 

Afternoon:

 

  • Drive south to Gebel Hammam Faraun and take road to summit. Overview discussion of the large-scale structure of the northern Gulf of Suez.

  • Examine modern fan-deltas and examples of faulting on return to hotel.

April 18th  
Morning:
  • Drive south to Wadi Tayiba and examine the basal rift unconformity, pre-rift red beds, basalt flows, and the rift-initiation Nukhul Formation.

  • Hike to the Gebel Tanka-3 well oil discovery. Discuss Pleistocene terrace development along the footwall of the Tanka fault.

Afternoon:
  • Drive to Wadi Nukhul, stopping at large basaltic dike, and then on to Wadi Baba. Box lunch in the field while studying large hanging wall folds in the pre- and syn-rift strata.

  • Hike through the Baba syncline to observe the effects of folding on main-phase syn-rift sediments of the Rudeis Formation.

  • Return to Markha Plain to discuss cross-fault geometries in rifts and then return to Moon Beach along the coastal highway.

April 19th  
Morning:
  • Depart from Moon Beach at 09:00 and arrive in Cairo at about noon time.

 

 

Wadi Tayiba. Pre-rift Late Eocene Tanka Formation limestone and Oligocene Tayiba Formation red beds unconformably overlain by ~23 Ma basalt flow, capped by syn-rift Early Miocene Nukhul Formation calcareous arenites.

 

 

Gebel Hammam Faraun. The fault-line scarp of Gebel Hammam Faraun, with predominantly pre-rift Eocene carbonate strata exposed in the footwall. Thermal springs are present along the fault near the present coastline.

 

 

Baba Syncline. Conglomerates and sandstones of the main syn-rift phase Rudeis Formation were deposited within a hanging wall syncline that continued to tighten during deposition.