Enhanced Saharan dust input to the Levant during Heinrich stadials

Adi Torfstein*, Steven L. Goldstein, Mordechai Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The history of dust transport to the Levant during the last glacial period is reconstructed using the isotope ratios of Pb, Sr, Nd, and Hf in sediments of Lake Lisan, the last glacial Dead Sea. Exposed marginal sections of the Lisan Formation were sampled near Masada, the Perazim Valley and from a core drilled at the deep floor of the modern lake. Bulk samples and size fractions display unique isotopic fingerprints: the finest detritus fraction (<5 μm) displays higher 87Sr/86Sr and lower εNd values (0.710–0.713 and −7.0 to −9.8, respectively) relative to the coarser fractions (5–20 μm and <20 μm; 0.708–0.710 and −3.4 to −8.3) and the bulk detritus samples (0.709–0.711 and −6 to −7.5). Similarly, the 206Pb/204Pb, 207Pb/204Pb and 208Pb/204Pb ratios (18.26-19.02, 15.634-15.68, and 38.25-38.82, respectively) are systematically higher in the finest detritus fraction relative to corresponding coarser fractions and bulk samples. The 87Sr/86Sr and εNd values of the finest fraction correspond with those of atmospheric dust originating from the Sahara Desert, while those of the coarse fractions are similar to loess deposits exposed in the Sinai and Negev Deserts. Pronounced excursions in the Sr-Nd-Pb isotope ratios toward more Sahara-like values coincide with the Heinrich (H) stadials 6, 5 and 1, reflecting significant increases in Saharan dust fluxes during regionally arid intervals, reflected by sharp lake level drops. Moreover, during H6 the dust came from different Saharan sources than during H1 and H5. While the relatively wet glacial climate in the Levant suppressed the transport of dust to the lake watershed, short-term hyper-arid spells during H-stadial intervals were accompanied by enhanced supply of fine Sahara dust to this region.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)142-155
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Louise Bolge and Jason Jweda for assistance in the lab. We further thank two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments and Xiaoping Yang for editorial handling. Funding was provided by the USA-Israel Bi-National Science Foundation project # 2010375 (to MS and SLG), the Israel Science Foundation grant 927/15 (to AT), Comer Science & Education Foundation grant # CP69 (to AT), and the Dead Sea Drill Center of Excellence of the Israel Science Foundation (grants 1736/11 and 1436/14 to MS). This is LDEO contribution #8186.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dead sea
  • Dust
  • Heinrich events
  • Lake lisan
  • Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes


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