Paleosols of the southern coastal plain of Israel

Moshe Wieder, Gedaliahu Gvirtzman, Naomi Porat, Maoz Dassa

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Paleosols of the S coastal plain of Israel were studied in a characteristic sequence situated in the Ruhama badlands area. At the upper part of the sequence, there is a Loessial Arid Brown Soil (Calciorthids), characteristic of the mildly arid climate of the area. The soil has two calcic horizons and four clayey layers alternating with four calcareous layers which are beneath them. Physical, chemical, and magnetic-susceptibility data and micromorphological evidence indicate that each clayey layer together with the calcareous layer beneath it forms a single pedogenic unit. These units are similar to modern Grumusolic soils (Xeric Paleargids or Xererthic Calciargids) that occur in the semiarid belt of the S coastal plain and develop on eolian-dust parent material. The calcareous layers are in fact calcic horizons formed by leaching of the carbonates from the clayey layers and accumulated in the form of in situ carbonate nodules. The leaching of the carbonates is not complete; they were never completely leached in the past. This feature together with a typical brown color is also characteristic of the modern soils developed in the semiarid water regime of the area. The four superimposed paleosols represent four cycles. It is suggested that they were formed in two phases. During a dry environment, a short phase of rapid eolian-dust accumulation prevailed, followed by a stable phase of soil development in a somewhat wetter climate. Dating by optically stimulated luminescence and previous dating by 14C in the area suggest that the upper two paleosol cycles belong to the Last Glacial period whereas the other two cycles are of an earlier age. The magnetic-susceptibility values decrease with age and react different from temperate areas. Below the four cycles, two totally leached paleosols developed on sandy parent material occur. Both paleosols have a reversed magnetic polarity and are hence older than 780 ky BP. The upper one is a Brown Mediterranean soil, and the lower one is a Red Mediterranean soil. Thin-section evidence suggests that they formed on terrestrial sand dunes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-541
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Magnetic susceptibility
  • Paleosols
  • Pedogenic carbonates
  • Soil micromorphology


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