Slip rate on the Dead Sea transform fault in northern Araba valley (Jordan)

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Abstract

The Araba valley lies between the southern tip of the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. This depression, blanketed with alluvial and lacustrine deposits, is cut along its entire length by the Dead Sea fault. In many places the fault is well defined by scarps, and evidence for left-lateral strike-slip faulting is abundant. The slip rate on the fault can be constrained from dated geomorphic features displaced by the fault. A large fan at the mouth of Wadi Dahal has been displaced by about 500 m since the bulk of the fanglomerates were deposited 77–140 kyr ago, as dated from cosmogenic isotope analysis (10Be in chert) of pebbles collected on the fan surface and from the age of transgressive lacustrine sediments capping the fan. Holocene alluvial surfaces are also clearly offset. By correlation with similar surfaces along the Dead Sea lake margin, we propose a chronology for their emplacement. Taken together, our observations suggest an average slip rate over the Late Pleistocene of between 2 and 6 mm yr−1, with a preferred value of 4 mm yr−1. This slip rate is shown to be consistent with other constraints on the kinematics of the Arabian plate, assuming a rotation rate of about 0.396° Myr−1 around a pole at 31.1°N, 26.7°E relative to Africa.

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