A New Approach to Constrain the Seismic Origin for Prehistoric Turbidites as Applied to the Dead Sea Basin

Yin Lu, Jasper Moernaut, Revital Bookman, Nicolas Waldmann, Nadav Wetzler, Amotz Agnon, Shmuel Marco, G. Ian Alsop, Michael Strasser, Aurélia Hubert-Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The seismic origin of turbidites is verified either by correlating such layers to historic earthquakes, or by demonstrating their synchronous deposition in widely spaced, isolated depocenters. A historic correlation could thus constrain the seismic intensity required for triggering turbidites. However, historic calibration is not applicable to prehistoric turbidites. In addition, the synchronous deposition of turbidites is difficult to test if only one deep core is drilled in a depocenter. Here, we propose a new approach that involves analyzing the underlying in situ deformations of prehistoric turbidites, as recorded in a 457 m-long core from the Dead Sea center, to establish their seismic origin. These in situ deformations have been verified as seismites and could thus authenticate the trigger for each overlying turbidite. Moreover, our high-resolution chemical and sedimentological data validate a previous hypothesis that soft-sediment deformation in the Dead Sea formed at the sediment-water interface.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL090947
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors appreciate the editor Lucy Flesch for handling our manuscript, Stefano Vitale and Alina Polonia for constructive reviews. This research was supported by the University of Liege under Special Funds for Research, IPD‐STEMA Program (R.DIVE.0899‐J‐F‐G to Y. Lu), Austrian Science Fund (FWF: M 2817 to Y. Lu), the DESERVE Virtual Institute of the Helmholtz Association (to A. Agnon), the Israel Science Foundation (#1093/10 to R.Bookman and #1645/19 to S.Marco), and the ICDP.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. The Authors.


  • Dead Sea
  • sediment deformation
  • seismic intensity
  • seismites
  • seismogenic sedimentary processes
  • sof&#8208
  • turbidites


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