Sand dunes as a major proximal dust source for late Pleistocene loess in the Negev Desert, Israel

Onn Crouvi*, Rivka Amit, Yehouda Enzel, Naomi Porat, Amir Sandler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Grain size analyses of three hilltop, primary eolian loess sequences in the Negev desert, southern Israel, show a bimodal grain-size distribution at 50-60 μm and 3-8 μm. Using analyses of mineralogy and OSL ages we demonstrate that the coarse mode is composed mostly of quartz grains and its relative magnitude increases regionally with time, suggesting an enhancement of a time-transgressive proximal dust source compared to a distal, Saharan fine-grain dust. The only proximal dust source for large amount of coarse silt quartz grains is the sands that advanced into Sinai and the Negev concurrently with the loess accretion during the late Pleistocene as a result of the exposure of the Mediterranean shelf. We therefore propose that the coarse silt quartz grains were formed through eolian abrasion within the margins of an advancing sand sea. This relationship between desert sand seas as a source for proximal coarse dust and desert margin loess deposits can be applicable to other worldwide deserts such as Northern Africa, China and Australia.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Y. Avni for help in finding Mt. Harif loess sequence, Y. Rephael, S. Ashkenazi, Y. Mizrachi, R. Madmon, M. Harel and U. Malik for field assistance, M. Harel, A. Lokshin and T. HaLevi for lab assistance. We thank Amit Mushkin and the two anonymous reviewers for improving this paper. The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office (DAAD19-03-1-0159) and by the United States–Israel Binational science foundation 2006221.


  • Deserts
  • Loess
  • Negev
  • Pleistocene
  • Proximal dust source
  • Sand


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