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Precipitation Source Inferred from Stable Isotopic Composition of Pleistocene Groundwater and Carbonate Deposits in the Western Desert of Egypt

  • Mohamed Sultan (a1), Neil Sturchio (a1), Fekri A. Hassan (a2), Mohamed Abdel Rahman Hamdan (a3), Abdel Moneim Mahmood (a4), Zeinhom El Alfy (a5) and Tom Stein (a6)...

An Atlantic source of precipitation can be inferred from stable isotopic data (H and O) for fossil groundwaters and uranium-series-dated carbonate spring deposits from oases in the Western Desert of Egypt. In the context of available stable isotopic data for fossil groundwaters throughout North Africa, the observed isotopic depletions (δD −72 to −81‰; δ18O −10.6 to −11.5‰) of fossil (≥32,000 yr B.P.) groundwaters from the Nubian aquifer are best explained by progressive condensation of water vapor from paleowesterly wet oceanic air masses that traveled across North Africa and operated at least as far back as 450,000 yr before the present. The values of δ18O (17.1 to 25.9‰) for 45,000- to >450,000-yr-old tufas and vein-filling calcite deposits from the Kharga and Farafra Oases are consistent with deposition from groundwaters having oxygen isotopic compositions similar to those of fossil groundwaters sampled recently at these locations.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
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