Pliocene-Pleistocene waterbodies and associated deposits in southern Israel and southern Jordan

Hanan Ginat, Stephan Opitz, Linah Ababneh, Galina Faershtein, Michael Lazar, Naomi Porat, Steffen Mischke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This paper provides an in-depth review of evidence for the presence of twelve waterbodies spanning the Late Pliocene through Late Pleistocene in southern Israel and southern Jordan. A comprehensive description of these waterbodies is presented, combined with new field, paleontological and numerical age data, along with a discussion of their implications for paleohydrology and paleoclimate. The region is currently hyper-arid and there are no permanent rivers, wetlands or lakes in the area. Nevertheless, during the time-frame examined, continuous layers of limestones and mudstones were deposited in wetlands and shallow lakes. According to their location, the waterbodies were classified into either resulting from local tectonic depressions or in wide natural depressions at base levels. Following the types of sediments and fauna associated with these waterbodies, it is suggested that four wetter periods occurred: Late Pliocene/Early Pleistocene, Middle Pleistocene, Middle Late Pleistocene and terminal Late Pleistocene. This resulted in the deposition of limestone, chalk, travertine, calcrete, mudstone, marl, clay, silt and sandstone. For several waterbodies, vertical and lateral transitions between white limestone and fine clastic sediments rich in carbonate, indicate changes in depositional conditions from a shallow lake to a wetland, both associated with wetter hydrological settings compared to current climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-33
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


We thank Rachamim Shem Tov for support with preparing the figures, Michael Finzi for comments on the text, Betty al Saqarat for logistical help in Jordan, and the anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and suggestions on a previous version of the manuscript. The research of the Pliocene and Pleistocene waterbodies was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Grant Mi 730/18-1 to SM) and The Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space .

FundersFunder number
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftMi 730/18-1
Ministry of Science, Technology and Space


    • Luminescence dating
    • Middle East
    • Paleohydrology
    • Pleistocene
    • Southern Levant
    • Waterbodies


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