Characterization and dating of saline groundwater in the dead sea area

Naama Avrahamov, Yoseph Yechieli, Boaz Lazar, Omer Lewenberg, Elisabetta Boaretto, Orit Sivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This work presents an attempt to date brines and determine flow rates of hypersaline groundwater in the extremely dynamic system of the Dead Sea (DS), whose level has dropped in the last 30 yr by ~20 m. The processes that affect the carbon species and isotopes of the groundwater in the DS area were quantified in order to estimate their flow rate based on radiocarbon and tritium methods. In contrast to the conservative behavior of most ions in the groundwater, the carbon system parameters indicate additional processes. The dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) content of most saline groundwater is close to that of the DS, but its stable isotopic composition (δ13CDIC) is much lower. The chemical composition and carbon isotope mass balance suggest that the low δ13CDIC of the saline groundwater is a result of anaerobic organic matter oxidation by bacterial sulfate reduction (BSR) and methane oxidation. The radiocarbon content (14CDIC) of the saline groundwater ranged from 86 pMC (greater than the ~82 pMC value of the DS in the 2000s) to as low as 14 pMC. The similarity between the 14CDIC value and Na/Cl ratio of the groundwater at the DS shore and that of the 1980s DS brine indicates that the DS penetrated to the aquifer at that time. The low 14CDIC values in some of the saline groundwater suggest the existence of ancient brine in the subaquifer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1140
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


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