High-resolution geological record of historic earthquakes in the Dead Sea basin

Revital Ken-Tor*, Amotz Agnon, Yehouda Enzel, Mordechai Stein, Shmuel Marco, Jorg F.W. Negendank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


A 2000 year paleoseismic record of the Dead Sea area was recovered from a lacustrine sedimentary section. The section is being exposed at the Ze'elim Terrace on the shores of the Dead Sea due to the fast retreat of the lake. The section consists of laminated detrital and chemical (mainly aragonite) sediments that were deposited in the Holocene paleo-Dead Sea. Eight layers in the section show deformed sedimentary structures and are identified as seismites. Their chronology was determined by radiocarbon dating on organic remains. The seismite ages are well correlated with the historically documented earthquakes of 64 and 31 B.C. and 33, 363, 1212, 1293, 1834 and 1927 A.D.. The few historically documented earthquakes that have no correlatives in the Ze'elim seismite record occurred in times of sedimentary hiatuses at this site (e.g., 749 A.D.). Based on modern analogues and the association of similar disturbed layers with syndepositional faults, the Ze'elim Terrace seismites indicate M>5.5 earthquakes. The average recurrence interval is estimated as ∼100-300 years and represents slip events on different faults in the Dead Sea area. The Ze'elim section provides a unique opportunity to correlate two independent and extensive data sets, the historical and sedimentary records. This study opens the way for better understanding of spatial and temporal distribution of earthquakes along the Dead Sea Transform and elsewhere.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2000JB900313
Pages (from-to)2221-2234
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue numberB2
StatePublished - 10 Feb 2001


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