Late Pleistocene palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Dead Sea area (Israel), based on speleothems and cave stromatolites


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May 2010


Calcite speleothems are a hitherto hardly documented occurrence in the nowadays arid to hyper-arid rain-shadow Dead Sea area of eastern Israel. Speleothem ages (U–Th) from two caves on the Dead Sea Fault Escarpment and two caves from arid rain-shadow areas surrounding the Dead Sea, span the last three glacial cycles from ca 354 to 12 ka and suggest episodic moist local palaeoclimate mainly during glacial periods of Marine Isotopic Stages (MIS) 6 and 4 to 2. Previously reported U–Th ages of stromatolites deposited in the Late Pleistocene Lake Lisan and preserved in caves of the Dead Sea Fault Escarpment, suggest that regional relatively moist climate affected the lake catchment area during the late part of (relatively warm) MIS-3 lasting until middle (cold) MIS-2, as well as at the MIS-5 to 4 (interglacial–glacial) transition. Speleothem deposition periods spanning the 38.4 ± 0.5 to 16.4 ± 0.3 ka time interval, i.e. late MIS-3 to early MIS-2, representing moist periods in the lake area, are coeval to regional moist conditions inferred by the stromatolite record. A direct connection is thus implied between local and regional climate at the latest Pleistocene based on correlation between two independent data sets. This connection implies that glacial climate has generally been moister than interglacial climate during the last glacial–interglacial cycle at both local and regional scales around the Dead Sea and its predecessors.


Calcite Speleothems, Dead Sea, Israel, Late Pleistocene, Lake Lisan, Dead Sea Fault Escarpment

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Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol. 29, no. 9-10 (2010-05-01).