Synoptic conditions of fine-particle transport to the last interglacial Red Sea-Dead Sea from Nd-Sr compositions of sediment cores

Daniel Palchan, Mordechai Stein, Steven L. Goldstein, Ahuva Almogi-Labin, Ofir Tirosh, Yigal Erel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The sediments deposited at the depocenter of the Dead Sea comprise high-resolution archive of hydrological changes in the lake's watershed and record the desert dust transport to the region. This paper reconstructs the dust transport to the region during the termination of glacial Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6; ∼135–129 ka) and the last interglacial peak period (MIS5e, ∼129–116 ka). We use chemical and Nd and Sr isotope compositions of fine detritus material recovered from sediment core drilled at the deepest floor of the Dead Sea. The data is integrated with data achieved from cores drilled at the floor of the Red Sea, thus, forming a Red Sea-Dead Sea transect extending from the desert belt to the Mediterranean climate zone. The Dead Sea accumulated flood sediments derived from three regional surface cover types: settled desert dust, mountain loess-soils and loess-soils filling valleys in the Dead Sea watershed termed here “Valley Loess”. The Valley Loess shows a distinct 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0.7081 ± 1, inherited from dissolved detrital calcites that originate from dried waterbodies in the Sahara and are transported with the dust to the entire transect. Our hydro-climate and synoptic conditions reconstruction illustrates the following history: During glacial period MIS6, Mediterranean cyclones governed the transport of Saharan dust and rains to the Dead Sea watershed, driving the development of both mountain soils and Valley Loess. Then, at Heinrich event 11, dry western winds blew Saharan dust over the entire Red Sea - Dead Sea transect marking latitudinal expansion of the desert belt. Later, when global sea-level rose, the Dead Sea watershed went through extreme aridity, the lake retreated, depositing salt and accumulating fine detritus of the Valley Loess. During peak interglacial MIS 5e, enhanced flooding activity flushed the mountain soils and fine detritus from all around the Dead Sea and Red Sea, marking a significant “contraction” of the desert belt. At the end of MIS 5e the effect of the regional precipitation diminished and the Dead Sea and Red Sea areas re-entered sever arid conditions with extensive salt deposition at the Dead Sea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


We thank Tom Goren of the Hebrew University for his advice on current atmospheric circulation and Ido Sirota for helping with the sample preparations. We also thank Dr. Amir Sandler and Dr. Onn Crouvi from the Geological Survey of Israel for XRD and grain size analyses. C. Hemleben and H. Schulz from the University of Tuebingen, Germany allowed generously the sampling of KL cores material used in this study. The manuscript benefited the comments of three anonymous reviewers. We acknowledge the Dead Sea Deep Drill Center of Excellence (COE) of the Israel Science Foundation for their support to this research (grants # 1736/11 and 1436/14 to YE). This is COE contribution #16, and LDEO contribution #8162.

FundersFunder number
Dead Sea Deep Drill Center of Excellence
Israel Science Foundation1736/11, 1436/14


    • Dead Sea
    • Dust sources
    • ICDP Dead Sea core
    • Late Quaternary
    • Levant
    • Loess
    • Nd-Sr isotopes
    • Paleo-climate
    • Paleo-synoptic
    • Red Sea


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