Evolution of Middle to Late Pleistocene sandy calcareous paleosols underlying the northwestern Negev Desert Dunefield (Israel)

Joel Roskin, Itzhak Katra, Naomi Porat, Ezra Zilberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Calcareous paleosols in the northwestern (NW) Negev Desert dunefield, Israel, at the eastern end of the Sinai-Negev erg were studied in relation to their underlying stabilized dunes and downwind loess deposits, using sedimentological analyses, spectroscopy, and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. During the Middle to Late Pleistocene, between the end of MIS 7 and through MIS 3, several cycles of sand veneer (sheet) deposition, stabilization, pedogenesis, and erosion formed a spatially variable sequence of sandy calcareous paleosols in the NW Negev. Periods of stability on the order of several thousand years to over ten thousand years, characterized by post-depositional illuviation of aeolian silts, clays, and salts, enabled the formation of diagnostic, often-indurated, calcareous, Bk horizons (stages I-III), with orthic carbonate nodules. The primary particle-size mode of the paleosol (127. μm) is intermediate between the modes of the overlying (MIS 2) dune sand and the mode of primary northern Negev (~. MIS 6 through MIS 2) loess deposits in the dunefield periphery. The sand fraction of the paleosols is slightly finer than the dune sand, and its spatial sedimentation pattern correlates with the pattern of the subsequent dune incursions. These observations suggest that (1) Bk paleosol horizons were resistant to (MIS 6-MIS 3) sand veneer aeolian erosion and formed chronologically differentiated and durable surfaces; (2) these surfaces remained in equilibrium for extensive periods, being intermittently covered and preserved by shifting sand veneers; (3) the MIS 2 dune incursion episodes followed the same transport routes of the underlying paleosol sand substrate while producing a limited amount of aeolian erosion on the Bk horizons, and; (4) the similar sedimentological and chronological framework of the paleosols and loess deposits suggests a partial genetic connection. As for the overlying dunes, aeolian sand supply to the parent material of the paleosols was initially controlled by sediment availability originating in the Nile Delta and probably linked to glacial-interglacial eustatic cycles and glacial and cold-event windiness. The NW Negev sand deposition episodes that markedly differ from the ages of a nearby sandy paleosol sequence of coastal origin exemplify the role of sand supply on the development of paleosol sequences in a similar paleoclimate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-152
Number of pages19
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aeolian
  • OSL
  • Paleosols
  • Pleistocene
  • Sand-sheets
  • Stratigraphy


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of Middle to Late Pleistocene sandy calcareous paleosols underlying the northwestern Negev Desert Dunefield (Israel)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this