Sand dunes as a major proximal dust source for late Pleistocene loess in the Negev Desert, Israel

Onn Crouvi, Rivka Amit, Yehouda Enzel, Naomi Porat, Amir Sandler

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199 Scopus citations


Grain size analyses of three hilltop, primary eolian loess sequences in the Negev desert, southern Israel, show a bimodal grain-size distribution at 50-60 μm and 3-8 μm. Using analyses of mineralogy and OSL ages we demonstrate that the coarse mode is composed mostly of quartz grains and its relative magnitude increases regionally with time, suggesting an enhancement of a time-transgressive proximal dust source compared to a distal, Saharan fine-grain dust. The only proximal dust source for large amount of coarse silt quartz grains is the sands that advanced into Sinai and the Negev concurrently with the loess accretion during the late Pleistocene as a result of the exposure of the Mediterranean shelf. We therefore propose that the coarse silt quartz grains were formed through eolian abrasion within the margins of an advancing sand sea. This relationship between desert sand seas as a source for proximal coarse dust and desert margin loess deposits can be applicable to other worldwide deserts such as Northern Africa, China and Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Deserts
  • Loess
  • Negev
  • Pleistocene
  • Proximal dust source
  • Sand


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