Criteria to identify sedimentary sills intruded during deformation of lacustrine sequences

Ian Alsop* (Corresponding Author), R Weinberger, S Marco, T Levi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Although sedimentary dykes have been widely reported across a range of settings, sedimentary sills have received somewhat less attention, perhaps due to the potential difficulties in identifying largely conformable intrusions within bedded sequences. Most outcrop descriptions of clastic intrusions are based on deep-water marine sequences, with few descriptions of sills in lacustrine settings. The recognition of sills in such settings is, however, important because lacustrine sequences are increasingly used as a record of palaeoseismic activity. The misidentification of sills that contain fragments and clasts of host stratigraphy with seismically-generated turbidites and debris flows, may lead to incorrect interpretations of palaeoseismicity. We use the Late Pleistocene Lisan Formation of the Dead Sea Basin as a case study, where laminated lake sediments preserve intricate relationships with sills. This permits us to not only establish a range of criteria used in the identification of sedimentary sills, but also examine relationships with adjacent seismically-triggered slumps and slides. Key criteria we use to recognise sills include marked changes in their thickness together with bifurcation and bridging geometries. Sills may be internally layered, contain lenses of breccia, together with aligned and folded clasts that may be truncated across upper sill contacts. Critical evidence for the interpretation of sills is also preserved along sharp but irregular upper contacts that erode and truncate bedding in the overlying host sequence. Minor apophyses and ‘wedges’ intrude both upwards and downwards from sills, while isoclinal recumbent ‘peel-back’ folds are created in host sediments by shear generated along the lower contacts of sills. We have undertaken anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) analysis and find an oblate fabric that suggests flow and intrusion of sills along the strike of the slope, that may also help with their identification in bedded sequences. Sills form along detachments to both extensional and contractional deformation associated with seismically-generated slumps and mass transport deposits, together with sub-surface fold and thrust systems. High fluid pressures associated with injection of sedimentary sills may facilitate near-surface failure and downslope movement of the sedimentary pile.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104633
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Early online date1 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

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) and the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources (grant #214-17-027). TL acknowledges the Israeli government GSI DS project 40706. We thank Fabrizio Agosta for efficient editorial handling, together with two anonymous reviewers who provided constructive comments that helped improve the paper.


  • Sedimentary sill
  • Clastic injection
  • Mass transport deposit
  • Dead Sea Basin


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