Middle to late Pleistocene shift in eolian silts contribution into Mediterranean soils at the fringe of the Negev loess, Israel

Onn Crouvi, Omry Barzilai, Yonaton Goldsmith, Rivka Amit, Zinovi Matskevich, Naomi Porat, Yehouda Enzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A common spatial feature within loess deposits worldwide is a downwind decrease in thickness and grain size, trends that are powerful tools for reconstructing paleowinds and past atmospheric circulation. Although such trends have been identified, there is limited knowledge of similar trends farther downwind from the loess region, where eolian influx can influence soil formation and hydrological processes. To examine these impacts we studied Quaternary sequences in prehistoric sites in Jerusalem, located only ∼50 km downwind from the edge of the Negev loess. All sequences are composed of two units separated by an unconformity. The lower unit is of middle Pleistocene age, it is composed of unimodal clay to silty clay dust deposits with chert clasts and Lower-Middle Paleolithic artifacts. A non-deposition interval characterized the middle to late Pleistocene transition, when dust accumulation rates were low. The upper unit age is late Pleistocene to Holocene; it is composed of bimodal silty clay to silty clay loam. Quartz, K-feldspars, and plagioclase contents together with the location and amplitude of grain-size coarse mode increase up-sequence. The addition of coarse silts to the upper unit of the sequences was coeval with episodes of loess accretion in the Negev. These silts were generated most likely by eolian abrasion of sand grains in the upwind dunes. Similar to the Negev, the addition of silts resulted in burial of the drainage network and reduced runoff and soil erosion rates. We stress the importance of desert loess in determining soil composition and surficial hydrology in wetter areas located in adjacent downwind regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


We thank the following GSI employees for their help with the laboratory analyses: Hadar Elyashiv, Yagel Peled, Gala Faershtein, Navot Morag and Amir Sandler. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 1672/15 ) and by the United States – Israel Binational Science Foundation grant no. 2014341 . Arnona A (permit number A-4776/06), Arnona B-C (permit number A-6048/10), Emeq Rephaim C (permit number A-5863/10) and Emeq Rephaim D (permit number A-6791/13) were excavated by Omry Barzilai on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Arnona D (permit number A7118/14) was excavated by Zinovi Matskevich on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Figs. 6 and 10 were illustrated by Leonid Zeiger and Michael Smelansky from the Israel Antiquities Authority. We thank Jef Vandenberghe and an anonymous reviewer for greatly impoving the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
United States - Israel Binational Science Foundation2014341
Israel Science Foundation1672/15


    • Desert
    • Dust
    • Loess
    • Mediterranean
    • Soil


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