A late Pleistocene linear dune dam record of aeolian-fluvial dynamics at the fringes of the northwestern Negev dunefield

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A late Pleistocene aeolian-fluvial record within a rare vegetated linear dune-like structure at the fringe of the northwestern Negev dunefield, Israel, provides direct evidence of dune-damming dynamics within the structure and its environs. Study methods included high resolution morphology and stratigraphy, micromorphology and sedimentological analyses. Chronology was based on eight archaeological sites from the structure and the INQUA Dune Atlas chronologic database. Low-energy fine-grained fluvial deposits underlying the structure and extending from its flanks indicate deposition by low energy hyper-concentrated flows in a floodplain environment and later in water bodies that formed by dune-damming of a mid-sized drainage basin. Interbedded sand with fine-grained deposits within the linear structure indicates interchanging dominances between aeolian sand incursion and seasonal floods. Sand deposition during dune elongation led to structure growth and dune-damming of its drainage system that in turn formed water bodies and upstream fine-grained deposition following seasonal floods. Calculations of current sediment yields indicate that fine-grained deposits accretion up to the structure's brim could possibly have rapidly occurred over a total time span of decades. However, artifacts dating to the Geometric Kebaran (~ 17.5–12.9 cal kyr BP) and Harifian (12.9–11.2 cal kyr BP) archaeological periods on the structure's surface indicates intermittent, repetitive, and short-term camping, utilizing adjacent water bodies over a time period of 4000–5000 years. Fluctuating high winds and precipitation during a time window of increased fluvial availability of fine-grained sediment from the hinterland generated ample fine-grained deposition. After ~ 11 cal kyr BP, the abundance and recurrence of dammed water bodies decreased when reduced wind power constrained dune-dam maintenance. After sediment accommodation space dissipated, fluvial flow of the drainage basin led to dune-dam destruction and partial fluvial erosion of the fine-grained deposits that continues today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-95
Number of pages20
JournalSedimentary Geology
StatePublished - 15 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was part of an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) rescue excavation at the site of Ashalim, Permit A-7124\2014 led by Jacob Vardi in June 2014. The below are warmly thanked for participation in the dig: Martin Pasternak and Alla Yaroshevich (field managers, IAA), Michal Birkenfeld (GIS Research, IAA), Tali Erickson-Gini, Yoram Haimi (Southern District, IAA). Talia Abulafia, Eran Nov, Alon Zivner, Tamar Gresser, Anat Ben-Ishai: Volunteers from the Archaeological division, Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev, Beer Sheva. Mendel Kahn (IAA) is thanked for GPS measurements. Omry Barzilai (IAA) is thanked for referring J. Roskin and D.E. Friesem to this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aeolian-fluvial interactions
  • Dunefield margins
  • Epipalaeolithic
  • Late Pleistocene-Holocene transition
  • Stratigraphy
  • Vegetated linear dune dam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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