Early-to-mid Miocene erosion rates inferred from pre-Dead Sea rift Hazeva River fluvial chert pebbles using cosmogenic 21Ne

Michal Ben-Israel*, Ari Matmon, Alan J. Hidy, Yoav Avni, Greg Balco

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this work, we utilize a novel application of cosmogenic 21Ne measurements in chert to compare exposure times measured in eroding surfaces in the central Jordanian Plateau with exposure times from chert pebbles transported by the Miocene Hazeva River. The Miocene Hazeva River was a large fluvial system (estimated catchment size > 100 000 km2) that drained the Arabian Plateau and Sinai Peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea during the early-to-mid Miocene. It was established after the rifting of the Red Sea uplifted the Arabian Plateau during the Oligocene. Following late-Miocene-to-early-Pliocene subsidence along the Dead Sea rift, the Hazeva drainage system was abandoned and dissected, resulting in new drainage divides on either side of the rift. We find modern erosion rates derived from cosmogenic 21Ne, 26Al, and 10Be in exposed in situ chert nodules to be extremely slow (between 2-4 mm kyr-1). Comparison between modern and paleo-erosion rates, measured in chert pebbles, is not straightforward, as cosmogenic 21Ne was acquired partly during bedrock erosion and partly during transport of these pebbles in the Hazeva River. However, 21Ne exposure times calculated in Miocene cherts are generally shorter (ranging between 0C59-0 and 242±113 kyr) compared to exposure times calculated in the currently eroding chert nodules presented here (269±49 and 378±76 kyr) and other chert surfaces currently eroding in hyperarid environments. Miocene exposure times are shorter even when considering that they account for bedrock erosion in addition to maintained transport along this large river. Shorter exposure times in Miocene cherts correspond to faster paleo-erosion rates, which we attribute to a combination of continuous surface uplift and significantly wetter climatic conditions during the early-to-mid Miocene.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)290-301
Number of pages12
JournalEarth Surface Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2020

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