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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 86, No. 6 (June 2002), P. 1003-1026.

Copyright ©2002. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Development of accommodation zones in the Gulf of Suez-Red Sea rift, Egypt

Amgad I. Younes,1 Ken McClay2

1Fault Dynamics Research Group, Geology Department, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX; current address: Shell EP Technology Applications and Research, P.O. Box 481, Houston, Texas, 77001; email: [email protected]
2Fault Dynamics Research Group, Geology Department, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX; email: [email protected]


Amgad Younes received a B.Sc. degree in 1985 from Ain Shams University, Egypt, an M.Sc. degree in 1991 from Ball State, and a Ph.D. in 1996 from Penn State University, all in geology. He completed three years of postdoctoral appointment at Royal Holloway University of London and Stanford University from 1996 to 1999. He then joined Marathon Oil Petroleum Technology Center in Denver from 1999 to 2001. He is currently a senior research geologist at Shell Research Center. His interests are focused on reservoir problems involving quantitative structural geology, fracture analysis and characterization, and fault seal prediction. He is also interested in problems and structural characteristics of rift basins.

Ken McClay graduated with a B.Sc. (honors) degree from Adelaide University. He subsequently undertook an M.Sc. degree in structural geology and rock mechanics at Imperial College, London University, where in 1978 he also obtained a Ph.D. in structural geology. He was awarded a D.Sc. by Adelaide University in 2000. He is BP Professor of Structural Geology and director of the Fault Dynamics Research Group at Royal Holloway University of London. His research involves the study of extensional thrust, strike-slip, and inversion terranes and their applications to hydrocarbon exploration. He publishes widely, consults, and offers short courses to industry.


This research was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (United Kingdom) ROPA grant # GR3/R9529. We thank Marathon Petroleum Egypt (MPE) and Gebel El Zeit Petroleum Company for providing the logistical support for field work. We also thank Bill Bosworth, Marathon Oil Company, for providing background data and discussions in the field; Adel R. Moustafa for a critical review; Samir Khalil for fruitful discussions; and Fathy Ezzat (MPE) for assistance during the field work. T. Dooley kindly assisted with the figure preparation. This article is Fault Dynamics Research Group Publication 89.


Basement rocks on the margins of the late Oligocene-Miocene Gulf of Suez-Red Sea rift system contain penetrative west-northwest, northwest, and north-south Precambrian structures, including foliations, fractures, faults, and regional sinistral shear zones. These have been reactivated during the Cenozoic rifting and have exerted fundamental controls on both rift-border fault geometries and the location of accommodation zones within the rift system. Two accommodation zones, the Zaafarana accommodation zone in the northern Gulf of Suez and the Duwi accommodation zone in the northwestern Red Sea rift margin, have been analyzed in detail. In both accommodation zones, the southwest-dipping, eastern rift-border faults (EBFs) consist of reactivated, Precambrian north-south and northwest foliations and fractures, which link together forming a rhomboidal zigzag fault pattern. Each EBF intersects a Precambrian shear zone then splays and loses displacement. In contrast, both of the northeast-dipping, western border faults (WBFs) consist of a reactivated fault segment colinear with a Precambrian shear zone, and this is hard-linked to a north-south-north-northeast-oriented, less well developed fault system via a discrete transfer fault. The change in dip direction of the half grabens is related to initial reactivation of preexisting regional, intersecting north-south and west-northwest Precambrian shear zones by late Oligocene-early Miocene N60 degreesE extension. This configuration allows initial left-lateral and right-lateral oblique-slip on the north-south and west-northwest zones, respectively. We present new models for the localization of the accommodation zones and for the development of the rift half-graben architectures.

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