Skip to main content Accessibility help

Late Quaternary Paleoclimate in the Eastern Mediterranean Region from Stable Isotope Analysis of Speleothems at Soreq Cave, Israel

  • Miryam Bar-Matthews (a1), Avner Ayalon (a1) and Aaron Kaufman (a2)

The eastern Mediterranean continental paleoclimate during the past 25,000 years was determined by a high-resolution petrographic, stable isotopic, and age study of speleothems from Soreq Cave, Israel. δ18O–δ13C trends indicate that all speleothems older than 7000 yr formed under conditions that differ from those of today. The period from 25,000 to 17,000 yr B.P. was characterized by the highest δ18O and δ13C values, which indicate deposition at temperatures of 12°–16°C, annual rainfall of 300–450 mm, and vegetation typical of a mixed C3–C4type. From 17,000 to 10,000 yr B.P. (deglaciation in northern Europe) δ18O values dropped progressively, correlative with warming (2°–3°C) and a gradual increase in precipitation. A simultaneous decrease in δ13C gives a range expected for C3-type vegetation. This period also shows significant δ18O and δ13C “spikes” which are correlatable with global events (e.g., Heinrich events and the Younger Dryas Stade). The speleothems that grew between 10,000 and 7000 yr B.P. have a unique petrography showing irregular thin laminae of various colors and much detritus. They have the lowest δ18O (corresponding to ∼1000 mm rain) coupled with the highest δ13C (caused by flooding events which stripped the soil cover). From 7000 to 1000 yr B.P. conditions became closer to those of today. This study demonstrates that global events which were recognized in Northern Europe and North Africa are also evident in the eastern Mediterranean and are reflected principally by large changes in the rainfall rate.

Hide All
Almogi-Labin, A, Luz, B, Duplessy, J.-C, 1986. Quaternary paleo-oceanography, pteropod preservation and stable-isotope record. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 57, 195211.
Almogi-Labin, A, Hemleben, C, Meischner, D, Erlenkeuser, H, 1991. Paleoenvironmental events during the last 13,000 years in the central Red Sea as recorded by Pteropoda. Paleoceanography 6, 8398.
Andrews, J.T, Erlenkeuser, H, Tedesco, K, Aksu, A.E, Timothy Jull, A.J, 1994. Late Quaternary (Stage 2 and 3) meltwater and Heinrich Events, northwest Labrador Sea. Quaternary Research 41, 2634.
Asaf, M., 1975. Karstic phenomena in the Soreq Cave. Hebrew University of Jerusalem. .
Bar-Matthews, M, Matthews, A, Ayalon, A, 1991. Environmental controls of speleothems mineralogy in a karstic dolomitic terrain (Soreq Cave, Israel). Journal of Geology 99, 189207.
Bar-Matthews, M, Ayalon, A, Matthews, A, Halicz, L, Sass, E, 1993. The Soreq Cave speleothems as indicators of paleoclimate variations. Geological survey of Israel. Current Research 8, 13.
Bar-Matthews, M, Ayalon, A, Matthews, A, Sass, E, Halicz, L, 1996. Carbon and oxygen isotope study of the active water–carbonate system in a karstic Mediterranean cave: implications for paleoclimate research in semiarid regions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 60, 337347.
Begin, Z.B, Ehrlich, A, Nathan, Y, 1974. Lake Lisan, the Pleistocene precursor of the Dead Sea. Geological Survey of Israel Bulletin 63, 30.
Berger, W.H, 1990. The Younger Dryas cold spell—a quest for causes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 89, 219237.
Berger, W.H, Killingley, J.S, Vincent, E, 1985. Timing of deglaciation from an oxygen isotope curve for Atlantic deep-sea sediments. Nature 314, 156158.
Bond, G, Heinrich, H, Broecker, W, Labeyrie, L, Mmanus, J, Andrews, J, Huon, S, Jantschik, R, Clashen, S, Simet, C, Tedesko, K, Klas, M, Bonani, G, Ivy, S, 1992. Evidence for massive discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic ocean during the last glacial period. Nature 360, 245249.
Butzer, K.W, 1979. Climatic patterns in an un-glaciated continent. Geographical Magazine 51, 201208.
Science 241, 1988. 10431052.
Dorale, J.A, Gonzalez, L.A, Reagan, M.K, Pickett, D.A, Murrell, M.T, Baker, R.G, 1992. A high resolution record of Holocene climate change in speleothem calcite from Cold Water cave, Northeast Iowa. Science 258, 16261630.
Duplessy, J.C, Deliubrias, G, Turon, J.L, Pujol, C, Dupart, J, 1981. Deglacial warming of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean: correlation with the paleoclimate evolution of the European continent. Paleoegography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 35, 121144.
Even, H, Carmi, I, Magaritz, M, Gerson, R, 1986. Timing the transport of water through the upper vadose zone in a karstic system above a cave in Israel. Earth Surface Processes Landforms 11, 181191.
Fairbanks, R.G, 1989. A 17,000-year glacio-eustatic sea level record: influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep-ocean circulation. Nature 342, 637642.
Gascoyne, M, 1992. Paleoclimate determination from cave calcite deposits. Quaternary Science Reviews 11, 609632.
Gascoyne, M, Schwarcz, H.P, Ford, D.C, 1983. Uranium-series ages of speleothem from northwest England: correlation with Quaternary climate. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 301, 143164.
Geyh, M.A, 1994. The paleohydrology of the Eastern Mediterranean. Late Quaternary Chronology and Paleoclimates of the Eastern Mediterranean p. 131145.
Gillespie, R, Street-Perrott, F.A, Switsur, R, 1983. Post-glacial arid episodes in Ethiopia have implications for climatic prediction. Nature 306, 680683.
Goodfriend, G.A, 1988. Mid-Holocene rainfall in the Negev desert from13 . Nature 333, 757760.
Goodfriend, G.A, 1991. Holocene trends in18 . Quaternary Research 35, 417426.
Goodfriend, G.A, Magaritz, M, 1988. Paleosols and late Pleistocene rainfall fluctuations in the Negev desert. Nature 332, 144146.
Gordon, D, Smart, P.L, Ford, D.C, Andrew, J.N, Atkinson, T.C, Rowe, P.J, Christopher, N.S.J, 1989. Dating of Late Pleistocene interglacial and interstadial periods in the United Kingdom from speleothem growth frequency. Quaternary Research 31, 1426.
Heinrich, , 1988. Origin and consequences of cyclic ice rafting in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean during the past 130,000 years. Quaternary Research 29, 142152.
Hendy, C.H, 1971. The isotopic geochemistry of speleothems I. The calculation of the effects of different modes of formation on the isotopic composition of speleothems and their applicability as paleoclimatic indicators. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 35, 801824.
Heusser, C.J, Rabassa, J, 1987. Cold climatic episodes of Younger Dryas age in Tierra del Fuego. Nature 328, 609611.
Horowitz, A, 1979. The Quaternary of Israel. Academic Press, New York.
Horowitz, A, Gat, J.R, 1984. Floral and isotopic indications for possible summer rains in Israel during wetter climates. Pollen et Spores XXVI, 6168.
Issar, A.S, 1990. Water Shall Flow from the Rock. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Issar, A.S, Govrin, Y, Geyh, M.E, Wakshal, E, Wolf, M, 1991. Climate changes during the upper Holocene in Israel. Israel Journal of Earth Sciences 40, 219223.
Kaufman, A, 1993. An evaluation of several methods for determining230 . Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 57, 23032317.
Kaufman, A, Yechieli, Y, Gardosh, M, 1992. Reevaluation of the lake-sediment chronology in the Dead Sea basin, Israel, based on new230 . Quaternary Research 38, 292304.
Keigwin, L.D, Lehman, S.J, 1994. Deep circulation change linked to Heinrich event 1 and Younger Dryas in a middepth North Atlantic core. Paleoceanography 9, 185194.
Levin, M, Gat, J.R, Issar, A, 1980. Precipitation, flood- and groundwaters of the Negev highlands: an isotopic study of desert hydrology. Arid-Zone Hydrology: Investigations with Isotope Techniques International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, p. 322.
Leuenberger, M, Siegenthaler, U, Langway, C.C, 1992. Carbon isotope composition of atmospheric CO2 . Nature 357, 488490.
Magaritz, M, 1986. Environmental changes recorded in the Upper Pleistocene along the desert boundary, southern Israel. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 53, 213229.
Magaritz, M, Kaufman, A, 1983. Paleoclimate in desert region. American Scientist 71, 514521.
Magaritz, M, Goodfriend, G.A, 1987. Movement of the desert boundary in the levant from latest Pleistocene to early Holocene. Berger, W.H, Labeyrie, L.D, Abrupt Climatic Change: Evidence and Implications Reidel, Dordrecht, 173183.
Neev, D, Emery, K.O, 1995. The Destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Jericho. Oxford Univ. Press, London.
Neev, D, Hall, J.K, 1979. Geophysical investigations in the Dead Sea. Sedimentary Geology 23, 209238.
O'Neil, J.R, Clayton, R.N, Mayeda, T.K, 1969. Oxygen isotope fractionation of divalent metal carbonates. Journal of Chemical Physics 30, 55475558.
Rohling, E.J, Hilgen, F.J, 1991. The eastern Mediterranean climate at times of sapropel formation: A review. Geologie en Mijnbouw 70, 253264.
Rossignol-Strick, M, 1985. Mediterranean Quaternary sapropels, an immediate response of the African monsoons to variation of insolation. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 49, 237263.
Rossignol-Strick, M, Nesteroff, W, Olive, P, Vergnaud-Grazzini, E, 1982. After the deluge: Mediterranean stagnation and sapropel formation. Nature 295, 105110.
Ruddiman, W.F, McIntire, A, 1981. The mode and mechanism of the last deglaciation: oceanic evidence. Quaternary Research 16, 125134.
Schwarcz, H.P, 1986. Geochronology and isotopic geochemistry of speleothems. P. Fritz, J.Ch.Fontes, Handbook of Environmental Isotope Geochemistry Elsevier, Amsterdam, 271303.
Street, F.A, Grove, A.T, 1976. Environmental and climatic implication of late Quaternary lake level fluctuation in Africa. Nature 261, 385390.
Street, F.A, Grove, A.T, 1979. Global maps of lake-level fluctuations since 30,000 yr B.P. Quaternary Research 12, 83118.
Street-Perrott, F.A, Perrott, R.A, 1990. Abrupt climatic fluctuations in the tropics: the influence of Atlantic Ocean circulations. Nature 343, 607612.
Stuiver, M, Becker, B, 1993. The precise decadal calibration of the radiocarbon time scale, A.D. 1950–6000 B.C. Radiocarbon 35, 2534.
Stute, M, Schlosse, P, Clark, J.F, Brocker, W.S, 1992. Paleotemperatures in the southwestern United States derived from noble gases in groundwater. Science 256, 10001003.
Talma, A.S, Vogel, J.C, 1992. Late Quaternary paleotemperature derived from a speleothem from Cango Caves, Cape Province, South Africa. Quaternary Research 37, 203213.
Tchernov, E, Bar-Yosef, O, 1982. Animal exploration in the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period at Wadi Tbeik, southern Sinai. Paleorient 8, 1737.
Thompson, W III, Ruddiman, W.F, Street-Perrott, F.A, Markgraf, V, Kutzbach, J.E, Baertlein, P.J, Wright, H.E Jr., Prell, W.L, 1993. Climatic changes during the past 18,000 years: regional syntheses, mechanisms, and causes. Wright, H.E, Global Climates Since the Last Glacial Maximum Univ. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 514535.
Yechieli, Y, Magaritz, M, Levy, Y, Weber, U, Kafri, U, Woelfli, W, Bonani, G, 1993. Late Quaternary geological history of the Dead Sea area, Israel. Quaternary Research 39, 5967.
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? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

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

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed