Bathymetry of Lake Lisan controls late Pleistocene and Holocene stream incision in response to base level fall

Michael Davis*, Ari Matmon, Ezra Zilberman, Naomi Porat, Daniel Gluck, Yehouda Enzel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper examines the millennial-scale evolution of the longitude profile of Nahal (Wadi) Zin in the Dead Sea basin in the northern Arava valley, Israel. Nahal Zin has incised ~ 50 m into relatively soft late Pleistocene Lake Lisan sediments. Incision was forced by the regressive (> 10 km) lake level fall of a total of > 200 m of Lake Lisan from its highest stand at ~ 25 ka and exposure of the lake-floor sediments to fluvial and coastal processes. Alluvial cut terraces of the incising channel are well preserved along the 17.5 km of the lowermost reach of Nahal Zin. At its outlet into the Dead Sea basin, Nahal Zin deposited a Holocene alluvial fan at the base of a 10-80 m high escarpment in unconsolidated sediments. The escarpment is associated with the Amazyahu fault, which forms the southern structural boundary of the present Dead Sea basin. Geomorphic mapping, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages, and soil stratigraphy allowed correlation of terrace remnants and reconstruction of several past longitudinal profiles of Nahal Zin and its incision history. Together with the published lake level chronology, these data provide an opportunity to examine stream incision related to base level lowering at a millennial scale. OSL ages of the terraces fit relatively well with the established lake level chronology and follow its regression and fall. For a few thousands of years the longitudinal profile response to the lake level fall was downstream lengthening onto the exposed former lake bed. Most of the incision (~ 40 m) occurred later, when the lake level reached the top of the Amazyahu fault escarpment and continued to drop. The incision was a relatively short episode at about 17 ka and cut through this escarpment almost to its base. The fast incision, its timing, and the profiles of the incising channels indicate that the escarpment was an underwater feature and was not formed after the lake retreated. This fairly simple scenario of regressive lake level fall and knickpoint exposure and incision is modeled here using a one-dimensional numerical incision model based on a linear diffusion equation. The calculated diffusion coefficient fits earlier results and data obtained from other streams in the area and confirms the upscaling of this simple model to the millennial scale.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)352-362
Number of pages11
JournalGeomorphology
Volume106
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 May 2009

Keywords

  • Base level
  • Bathymetry
  • Dead Sea
  • Diffusion
  • Incision
  • Lisan
  • Longitude profile
  • Modeling
  • Nahal Zin
  • OSL

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