Paleoclimatology of the Levant from Zalmon Cave speleothems, the northern Jordan Valley, Israel

Jonathan Keinan*, Miryam Bar-Matthews, A. Ayalon, Tami Zilberman, A. Agnon, Amos Frumkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The Levant region of Israel, located along the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, is characterized by Mediterranean climate, but sixty km eastwards towards the Dead Sea Rift Valley (DSRV), the region rapidly becomes a ‘rain shadowʼ desert. Speleothems from the Mediterranean climate zone continuously grew throughout several glacial/interglacial cycles, indicating that water was always available in the unsaturated zone. Their δ18O variations match global and regional climate changes, with the Eastern Mediterranean Sea being the major control on their δ18O values, as evident from the similarity between the speleothems and the planktonic foraminifer G. ruber records. In contrast, speleothems along the central and southern segments of the DSRV grew mainly during last glacial periods coinciding with the higher stands of Lake Lisan, the precursor of the present-day Dead Sea. This paper discusses the newly discovered Zalmon Cave speleothems, located in the northern segment of the DSRV shedding light on the hydrological conditions along the rift during last glacial. Unlike speleothems located further south along the DSRV, Zalmon Cave speleothems grew both during glacial and interglacial periods. However, during last glacial their δ18O values, shifted to lower values by ∼1–2‰ relative to speleothems from central Israel coinciding also with the largest difference in δ18O values between Zalmon Cave speleothems and the marine record. The data suggest that a change of the westerlies' storm tracks occurred during most of the last glacial period, which resulted in increased rainfall in the northern DSRV providing freshwater input during the otherwise relatively ‘drierʼ glacial.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)142-153
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dead Sea Rift Valley
  • Paleoclimate
  • Quaternary
  • Speleothems
  • Stable isotopes
  • U-Th series


Dive into the research topics of 'Paleoclimatology of the Levant from Zalmon Cave speleothems, the northern Jordan Valley, Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this