The present-day stress field in Egypt

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A. Badawy


The present-day stress field has been investigated by the analysis of the directions of maximum horizontal stress (ó 1 ) inferred from earthquake focal mechanisms and borehole breakouts in Egypt. The results indicate that strike-slip and normal faulting movements characterize the majority of the earthquake focal mechanisms; only a few events are of reverse faulting type. The analysis of 35 mechanisms suggests that the present-day stress field in Southern Egypt is dominated by a strike-slip stress regime (SS) and it is mainly transtensional (NS: normal faulting with strike-slip component) in Northern Egypt. The orientation of P-axes reflects that the maximum horizontal stress (ó 1) in Southern Egypt is uniform and aligned to nearly E-W direction while in Northern Egypt it is aligned with an even mix of NW-SE and nearly E-W compression. Along the Gulf of Aqaba, the southern part of the Dead Sea Fault (DSF), the focal mechanism solutions indicate that the maximum horizontal stress is presently oriented NW-SE, corresponding to a strike-slip mechanism in concert with geological evidence. More detailed investigations have been performed for the Gulf of Suez. We compare our results to the near-surface stress measurements from borehole breakouts to see if there is a change in orientations with depth. Shallow stress directions derived from borehole breakouts are not consistent with the deep stress directions derived from earthquakes focal mechanisms. About 73% of 30 borehole breakouts measurements indicate NW-SE alignment of the maximum horizontal stress and 27% are ENE-WSW. The direction of ó 1 inferred from the focal mechanism solutions is changing from NE-SW to ENE-WSW. Therefore, at least in this area, the stress direction is not constant throughout the crust.

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Badawy, A. (2001) “The present-day stress field in Egypt”, Annals of Geophysics, 44(3). doi: 10.4401/ag-3575.

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