Evidence from luminescence for Late Pleistocene formation of calcareous aeolianite (kurkar) and paleosol (hamra) in the Carmel Coast, Israel

Dorit Sivan, Naomi Porat

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Calcareous aeolianite (kurkar) and red loamy paleosol (hamra) units form ridges in the northern coastal plain of Israel. The kurkar ridges with hamra units have been thought to be indicators of past sea levels and of palaeoclimate, though there has been no clear chronology that could correlate units from one ridge to another or to global palaeoclimate and sea level change. We obtained detailed stratigraphy and luminescence ages for the kurkar and hamra units that range from 35 to 101 ka, indicating coeval formation of these units during the Late Pleistocene. Independent dating suggests that hamra and similar loamy soils formed at ∼45 to ∼130 ka in the Habonim Quarry site at the eastern ridge, when kurkar that has been dated by us to 50-67 ka was deposited in the coastal trough, showing facies changes from west to east. The youngest ages for exposed kurkar in the Dor Islet at the coastal ridge, 35 and 38 ka, are close to the 35 ka age obtained independently for the upper kurkar near Atlit at the eastern ridge. At that time, when kurkar was deposited and cemented on the top of both ridges, a hamra, dated by us to 37 ka, formed in the coastal trough. Our results indicate that kurkar accumulated along the coastal plain at different time intervals throughout the Late Pleistocene, and that its deposition was not necessarily associated with high sea levels. Moreover, our data as well as previous research suggest that hamra also formed at different periods, sometimes synchronous with kurkar, and its formation is therefore not related to any particular climatic events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 19 Aug 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Mr. S. Breitstein and Mr. A. Yurman, the workshop team from the Institute for Maritime Studies (RIMS) in Haifa University, and Mr. S. Ashkenazi from the Geological Survey for acquiring the sampling facilities at the Dor islets. The drillings were carried out as part of MA Thesis of D. Eliyahu in Dor and PhD Thesis of R. Cohen-Sefer in Ma'agan Mikha'el area, both supervised by D. Sivan, and both supported by Sir Maurice and Lady Irene Hatter grant, the University of Haifa (RIMS). We thank M. Frechen and an anonymous reviewer for improving an earlier draft of this manuscript.


  • Hamra
  • Israel
  • Kurkar
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Luminescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Paleontology


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