Skip to main content

The late Quaternary limnological history of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel

  • N. Hazan (a1), M. Stein (a2), A. Agnon (a1), S. Marco (a3), D. Nadel (a4), J.F.W. Negendank (a5), M.J. Schwab (a5) and D. Neev (a2)...

The freshwater Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and the hypersaline Dead Sea are remnant lakes, evolved from ancient water bodies that filled the tectonic depressions along the Dead Sea Transform (DST) during the Neogene–Quartenary periods. We reconstructed the limnological history (level and composition) of Lake Kinneret during the past ∼40,000 years and compared it with the history of the contemporaneous Lake Lisan from the aspect of the regional and global climate history. The lake level reconstruction was achieved through a chronological and sedimentological investigation of exposed sedimentary sections in the Kinnarot basin trenches and cores drilled at the Ohalo II archeological site. Shoreline chronology was established by radiocarbon dating of organic remains and of Melanopsis shells.

The major changes in Lake Kinneret level were synchronous with those of the southern Lake Lisan. Both lakes dropped significantly ∼42,000, ∼30,000, 23,800, and 13,000 yr ago and rose ∼39,000, 26,000, 5000, and 1600 yr ago. Between 26,000 and 24,000 yr ago, the lakes merged into a unified water body and lake level achieved its maximum stand of ∼170 m below mean sea level (m bsl). Nevertheless, the fresh and saline water properties of Lake Kinneret and Lake Lisan, respectively, have been preserved throughout the 40,000 years studied. Calcium carbonate was always deposited as calcite in Lake Kinneret and as aragonite in Lake Lisan–Dead Sea, indicating that the Dead Sea brine (which supports aragonite production) never reached or affected Lake Kinneret, even during the period of lake high stand and convergence. The synchronous level fluctuation of lakes Kinneret, Lisan, and the Holocene Dead Sea is consistent with the dominance of the Atlantic–Mediterranean rain system on the catchment of the basin and the regional hydrology. The major drops in Lake Kinneret–Lisan levels coincide with the timing of cold spells in the North Atlantic that caused a shut down of rains in the East Mediterranean and the lakes drainage area.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. The Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malkhe Yisrael Street, 95501, Jerusalem, Israel. E-mail address: (M. Stein).
Hide All
Bar-Adon P., (1966). Zinabery and Bet Yerach in light of origin and the archeological finding. Eretz-Israel vol. 4, The Society of Research Israel and Antiquity, .
Bartov Y., Stein M., Enzel Y., Agnon A., Reches Z., (2002). Lake levels and sequence stratigraphy of Lake Lisan, the Late Pleistocene precursor of the Dead Sea. Quaternary Research 57, 921.
Bartov Y., Goldstein S.L., Stein M., Enzel Y., (2003). Catastrophic arid episodes in the Eastern Mediterranean linked with the North Atlantic Heinrich events. Geology 31, 439442.
Begin Z.B., Ehrlich A., Nathan Y., (1974). Lake Lisan—The precursor of the Dead Sea. Geological Survey of Survey of Israel Bulletin 63, 130.
Begin Z.B., Broecker B., Buchbinder Y., Druckman A., Kaufman M., Magaritz , Neev D., (1985). Dead Sea and Lake Lisan levels in the last 30,000 years. Geological Survey of Israel Bulletin 85, 181.
Begin Z.B., Stein M., Katz A., Machlus M., Rosenfeld A., Buchbinder B., Bartov Y., (2004). Spatial Trends in the Late Quaternary Lisan Formation (Dead Sea Rift) and their climatic implications. Quaternary Science Review 23, 16271636.
Belitzky S. (1996). Geomorphology tectonic of the Lower Jordan Valley-active continental rift.PhD dissertation,The Hebrew University, , Jerusalem (in Hebrew)., .
Belitzky S., Nadel D., (2002). Late Pleistocene and recent tectonic deformations at the Oholo II prehistoric site (19K) and the evolution of the Jordan River outlet from the Sea of Galilee. Geoarcheology 17, 453464.
Ben-Arieh J., (1964). Some remarks on the last stages of formation of Lake Tiberias. Israel Journal of Earth Science 13, 5362.
Bookman (Ken-Tor) R., Enzel Y., Agnon A., Stein M., (2004). Late Holocene lake-levels of the Dead Sea. Geological Society of America Bulletin 116, 555571.
Braun D. (1992). The geology of Afiqim area.MSc thesis.The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (in Hebrew), .
C. Bronk Ramsey (2000). OxCal program v. 3.5..
Ehrlich A., (1985). The eco-biostratigraphy significance of the fossil diatoms of Lake Kinneret. Current Research-Geological Survey of Israel 5, 2430.
Enzel Y., Bookman (Ken-Tor) R., Sharon D., Gvirtzman H., Dayan U., Ziv B., Stein M., (2003). Late Holocene climates of the Near East deduced from Dead Sea level variations and modern regional winter rainfall. Quaternary Research 60, 263273.
Frumkin A., Magaritz M., Carmi I., Zak I., (1991). The Holocene climatic record of the salt caves of Mount Sedom, Israel. The Holocene 3, 191200.
Garfunkel Z., (1981). Internal structure of the Dead Sea leaky transform (Rift) in relation to plate kinematics. Tectonophysics 80, 81108.
Gophna R., (1992). The Intermediate Bronze Age. The Archeology of Ancient Israel Yale University, New Haven., 398.
Haase-schramm A., Goldstein S.L., Stein M., (2004). U-Th dating of Lake Lisan (late Pleistocene Dead Sea) aragonite and implications for glacial East Mediterranean climate change. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 68, 9851005.
Hazan N. (2003). Kinneret lake level in the last 40,000 yr.MSc thesis.The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (in Hebrew), .
Heimann A., Braun D., (2000). Quaternary stratigraphy of the Kinnarot Basin, Dead Sea Transform, northeastern Israel. Israel Journal of Earth-Sciences 49, 3144.
Kadan G. (1997). Evidence for Dead Sea lake-level fluctuations and recent tectonism from Holocene fan-delta of Nahal Darga.MSc thesis.Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, , Beer-Sheva., .
Katz A., Kolodny N., (1989). Hypersaline brine diagenesis and evolution in the Dead Sea–Lake Lisan system (Israel). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 53, 5967.
Ken-Tor R., Agnon A., Enzel Y., Stein M., Marco S., Negendank J.-F.-W., (2001). High-resolution geological record of historic earthquakes in the Dead Sea Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research 106, 22212234.
Lev L., Boerreto E., Marco S., Stein M., (2004). Assessment of the potential use of Melanopolis shells as paleo-environmental chronometer. Annual Meeting-Israel Geological Society.
Machlus M., Enzel Y., Goldstein S.L., Marco S., Stein M., (2000). Reconstruction of low-levels of Lake Lisan between 55 and 35 kyr. Quaternary International 73/74, 137144.
Marco S., Hartal M., Hazan N., Lev L., Stein M., (2003). The 18 January 749 earthquakes rupture and extreme high stand of the Sea of Galilee discovered in ancient Tiberias. Geology 31, 665668.
Migowski C., Agnon A., Bookman R., Negandank J., Stein M., (2004). Recurrence pattern of Holocene earthquakes along the Dead Sea transform revealed by varve-counting and radiocarbon dating of lacustrine sediments. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 222, 301304.
Nadel D., (1995). Radiocarbon dating of Ohalo II: archaeological and methodological implications. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 22, 811822.
Nadel D., (2002). Ohalo II: a 23,000-Year-Old-Fisher-Hunter-Gatherers' Camp on the Shore of the Sea of Galilee. Hecht Museum, Hafia.
Nadel D., Belitzky S., Bearetto E., Carmi I., Heinemeier J., Werker E., Marco S., (2001). New dates from submerged late Pleistocene sediments in the southern Sea of Galilee, Israel. Radiocarbon 43, 11671178.
Neev D., Emery E.O., (1967). The Dead Sea. Geological Survey of Israel Bulletin 41, 1147.
Neev D., Emery E.O., (1995). The Destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Jericho. Oxford Univ. Press, 175.
Pollinger U., Ehrlich A., Serruya S., (1986). The planktonic diatoms of Lake Kinneret (Israel) during the last 5000 years—Their contribution the algal biomass. Richard M., Proceeding of the 8th International Diatom Symposium, Koeltz 459470.
Prasad S., Vis H., Negendank J.F.K., Wladmann N., Stein M., (2004). Evidence from Lake Lisan of solar influence on decadal- to centennial-scale climate variability during isotope stage 2. Geology 32, 581584.
Rosenthal Y., Katz A., (1989). The applicability of trace elements in freshwater shells for paleogeochemical studies. Chemical Geology 78, 6576.
Rothstein Y., Bartov Y., Frieslander U., (1992). Evidence for local shifting of the main fault and changes in the structural setting, Kinnarot basin, Dead Sea transform. Geology 20, 251254.
Schramm A., Stein M., Goldstein S.L., (2000). Calibration of the 14C time scale to >40 ka by 234U–230Th dating of Lake Lisan sediment (Last Glacial Dead Sea). Earth and Planetary Science Letters 175, 2740.
Starinsky A. (1974). Relationship between Ca-Chloride brines and sedimentary rock in Israel.PhD dissertation.The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (in Hebrew), .
Stein M., (2001). The sedimentary and geochemical record of Neogene–Quatenary water bodies in the Dead Sea Basin—Inferences for the regional paleoclimatic history. Journal of Paleolimnology 26, 271282.
Stein M., (2002). The fall and rise of the Dead Sea during the post-Glacial and the Younger Dryas event. Abstracts of the 12th annual V.M. Goldshmidt Conference, Davos Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta Special Supplement A-738.
Stein M., Starinsky A., Katz A., Goldstein S.L., Machlus M., Schramm A., (1997). Strontium isotopic, chemical, and sedimentological evidence for evolution on Lake Lisan and the Dead Sea. Geochimica et Cosmochima Acta 61, 39753992.
Stiller M., Kaufman A., Carmi I., Mintz G., (2001). Calibration of lacustrine sediment age using the relationship between 14C levels in lake waters and in the atmosphere: the case of the Lake Kinneret. Radiocarbon 43, 821830.
Vinogradov Z., (1992). “Bet Yerach” Kinneret Book. Ministry of Defense and The Kinneret Administration, 354.
Zak I. (1967). The geology of Mount Sedom.PhD dissertation,the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, .
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 1 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 44 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 17th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.