Eastern Mediterranean sea levels through the last interglacial from a coastal-marine sequence in northern Israel

D. Sivan, G. Sisma-Ventura, N. Greenbaum, O. M. Bialik, F. H. Williams, M. E. Tamisiea, E. J. Rohling, A. Frumkin, S. Avnaim-Katav, G. Shtienberg, M. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A last interglacial (Marine Isotope Stage, MIS5e) marine-coastal sequence has been identified along the Galilee coast of Israel, with the type section located at Rosh Hanikra (RH). The microtidal regime and tectonic stability, along with the detailed stratigraphy of the RH shore, make the study region ideally suited for determining relative sea level (RSL) through the MIS5e interval in the eastern Mediterranean. The sequence contains fossilized microtidal subunits at a few meters above the current sea level. Unfortunately, all fossils were found to be altered, so that U-Th datings cannot be considered to represent initial deposition. We contend that U-Th dating of Strombus bubonius shells (recrystallized to calcite) suffices to indicate a lower limit of ~110 ± 8 ka for the time sea level dropped below the RH sedimentary sequence. The RH-section comprises three main subunits of a previously determined member (the Yasaf Member): (a) a gravelly unit containing the diagnostic gastropod Strombus bubonius Lamarck (Persististrombus latus), which was deposited in the intertidal to super-tidal stormy zone; (b) Vermetidae reef domes indicating a shallow-water depositional environment; and (c) coarse to medium-sized, bioclastic sandstone, probably deposited in the shallow sub-tidal zone. The sequence overlies three abrasion platforms that are cut by tidal channels at elevations of +0.8 m, +2.6 m and +3.4 m, and which are filled with MIS5e sediments. We present a detailed study of the sequence, with emphasis on stratigraphic, sedimentological, and palaeontological characteristics that indicate sea-level changes. Although without precise absolute dating, the stratigraphic sequence of RH through MIS5e allows us to identify a time-series of RSL positions, using the elevations of three stratigraphic subunits. Reconstructed RSL values range from +1.0 m to +7 m (with uncertainly < 1 m), and most fall within a narrow range of +1.0 to +3.3 m. Toward the end of MIS5e, RSL exceeded about +7 m. Glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) modelling using multiple ice histories suggests that GIA corrections range between about -1.8 m and +5.4 m. This implies that global mean sea level resided between -0.8 m and +8.7 m during most of MIS5e. The absolute GIA correction would not be constant through the interglacial, and reduces to a range of -1.2 m to+ 2.4 m towards the end of the interglacial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-225
Number of pages22
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank H. K. Mienis of the Mollusc Collection, Zoological Museum, Tel Aviv University, and the Mollusc Collection, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for his significant contribution in identifying the species, and Dr. N. Porat, from the Israeli Geological Survey (IGS) for the OSL dating of the Regba Mb. Thanks to Neta Bar for the U-Th isotopes analysis. Thanks are also due to Noga Yoselevich of the Cartography Laboratory of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, for the graphics. Dr. Sisma-Ventura acknowledges postdoctoral funding by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) and the University of Haifa . E.J.R, F.H.W, and M.E.T acknowledge support from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) consortium project iGlass ( NE/1009906/1 and NE/1008365/1 ), and E.J.R. acknowledges support by Australian Laureate Fellowship FL120100050 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


  • East Mediterranean
  • GIA modelling
  • Galilee coast
  • Israel
  • MIS5e sea levels
  • Strombus bubonius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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