Bed-parallel slip: Identifying missing displacement in mass transport deposits

G I Alsop* (Corresponding Author), R Weinberger, Shmuel Marco, Tsafrir Levi

*Corresponding author for this work

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Bed-parallel slip (BPS), where neighbouring beds slide past one another along bedding planes, is notoriously difficult to identify without reference to pre-existing features such as steep faults or dykes that act as markers to record BPS offset. While BPS is intuitively thought to operate during downslope sliding of mass transport deposits (MTDs) in sedimentary basins, there is a conspicuous lack of supporting outcrop or seismic data to corroborate this and BPS displacement may therefore have remained unaccounted for. This study addresses this gap in knowledge by investigating late-Pleistocene MTDs developed around the Dead Sea Basin and provides the first detailed analysis of BPS that pervades a gravity-driven setting. In particular, we examine the role of BPS that crosscuts earlier normal and reverse faults that act as markers to allow metre-scale patterns of horizontal displacement to be identified in MTDs. The studied BPS always forms with a consistent top-to-the east sense of offset that corresponds with gravity-driven downslope movement towards the depo-centre of the basin. BPS frequently develops adjacent to competent detrital-rich beds and forms discrete glide planes with little or no visible deformation in sediments on either margin, although detachment folds are occasionally developed above the slip plane and confirm directions of easterly movement. Early downslope-dipping normal faults that are cut by later BPS planes results in older over younger stratigraphic relationships across the BPS surface, together with ‘sawtooth’ patterns where multiple BPS planes have developed. Conversely, early upslope-dipping normal faults that are cut by BPS create younger over older stratigraphic relationships combined with missing section and ‘staircase’ patterns where multiple BPS planes exist. As BPS in sub-horizontal sequences does not have a vertical component of displacement, it may be examined in terms of horizontal ‘heave’. BPS increases heave in upslope-dipping normal faults, whereas it reduces heave in downslope-dipping normal faults and may even become negative where sections are repeated across sawtooth profiles. In addition, BPS increases heave in upslope-dipping reverse/thrust faults and reduces heave across downslope dipping ‘backthrusts’. Although individual BPS planes may have limited displacement, the net consequence of multiple planes of BPS that form in the shallow-subsurface is to distort patterns and estimates of extension and contraction across fault zones in MTDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103952
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date4 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

RW was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant No. 868/17). SM acknowledges the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant No. 1645/19). TL acknowledges the Israeli government GSI DS project 40706.


  • Bed-parallel slip
  • Dead sea
  • Mass transport deposits


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