New insights into the Levantine Basin

Currently no exploration wells exist in offshore Cyprus and Lebanon, although huge gas discoveries have been made in the vicinity, but continuous seismic coverage from Cyprus to Lebanon provides an excellent starting point to understand the development of the Levantine Basin.
This article appeared in Vol. 8, No. 1 - 2011


The picturesque village of Omodos in Cyprus is overshadowed by the Troodos Ophiolite Massif, created in the Upper Cretaceous as a result of the collision of the African with the Eurasian plate. The Levantine Basin lies between Cyprus to the north and Lebanon and Israel to the east.  Photo: Cyprus Tourism Organisation

The Levantine Basin and the Levant Margin

The Seabed grid of the Eastern Mediterranean MegaProject illustrates the water depth variation between the different basins and provinces. Image: PGS The Levantine Basin, a deep marine basin with water depths of 1,500 – 2,000m and an area of 83,000 km2 , is one of the world’s significant underexplored regions. It is the only basin in the eastern Mediterranean where deepwater offshore wells have been drilled. Industry faith in this offshore area as an exploration target has been justified in recent years by three significant finds; Tamar, Dalit and most recently Leviathan. These have proven the existence of good (sub-salt) reservoir sands within the Miocene strata.   

The Levantine Basin has been in existence since the Late Palaeozoic, and is believed to contain a thick infill of sediments. The Levant Margin is a passive continental margin located to the east of the Levantine Basin, which has persisted since at least the Mesozoic and today comprises a narrow marine shelf and a broader terrestrial area. A variety of processes have influenced the development of the margin and the thick sedimentary succession deposited. These sediments are predominantly shallow marine and include carbonates, marls and clastics in which hydrocarbons are proven to be present.  

Interpretation of regional seismic data has greatly improved the understanding of the stratigraphy of the Levantine Basin. Key horizons have been interpreted and used to produce time and depth grids and the interpreted horizons can be seen to separate distinct seismic sequences with particular seismic characteristics. 

East Mediterranean Stratigraphy and Petroleum Systems

A regional line in the Levantine Basin with the margin of the ECB in the west and the Levant Margin in the east, showing key horizons and major faults. Source: PGS

  • Thickening towards the north can be seen on the Senonian Unconformity to Base Miocene isopach map (above). The Base Miocene to Base Middle Miocene isopach (below) shows a NNE-SSW depocentre orientation. Source: PGS

A prograding clastic system in the Upper Miocene interval. Source: PGS


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