Alluvial deposition and lake-level fluctuations forced by Late Quaternary climate change: The Dead Sea case example

Y. Klinger, J. P. Avouac, D. Bourles, N. Tisnerat

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Based on geomorphic observations, we discuss lake-level fluctuations, alluvial deposition and river entrenchment in the Dead Sea-Wadi Araba area. The bulk of alluvium in the northern Wadi Araba was probably deposited before the Lisan period of lake transgression that started at about 70 kyears B.P. The lake reached a maximum elevation about 150 m below sea level (b.s.l.), possibly around 15 cal. kyears B.P. as indicated by the highest preserved beach ridges. Cosmogenic exposure dates show that the ridge material consists mainly of remobilized Pleistocene gravel indicating little sediment supply during most of the Lisan period. During this period, a reduced sediment flux fed subaquatic fan deltas along the margin of the Dead Sea. Wetter conditions settled at the end of this period, the water level rose to about 280 m b.s.l. around 15 kyears B.P. and prevailed in the early Holocene (10.5-7 cal. kyears B.P.). Following that humid period, the lake level dropped and two major episodes of fluvial aggradation occurred during periods of relative low lake level. The first aggradational episode took place between about 7.0 and 6.2 cal. kyears B.P. Beach bars indicate a subsequent lake transgression between 6.2 and 4.4 kyears B.P. up to 350 m b.s.l. The second aggradational episode happened between 4.4 and 2.0 cal. kyears B.P., and was also followed by a late transgression up to 375 m b.s.l., dated to 1960-1715 cal. years B.P. The correlation between low lake level and fluvial aggradation is taken to reflect the synchronous change of the fluvial regime and of the lake hydrologic balance, forced by climate changes, rather than a base-level control. We also exclude large tectonic forcing on fan emplacement and river entrenchment. Alluviation appears in this setting as a very irregular process, characterized by long periods of quiescence alternating with periods of fan build-up, reflecting the transient response of the water drainage system to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages21
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Nov 2003


  • Alluviation
  • Climate
  • Fluvial


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