Glacial-Holocene variability in sediment accumulation and erosion along submarine blind canyons: A case study from Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Naomi Moshe, Oded Katz, Adi Torfstein, Mor Kanari, Pere Masque, Orit Hyams-Kaphzan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Submarine canyons serve as important sediment transport conduits from littoral zones to the deep sea, with strong impacts on the sedimentation patterns in marginal areas of the ocean. Moreover, such canyons can be major geohazards for submarine infrastructure, warranting a good understanding of their past and current behavior. Here, we present a study of the geological history and the recent activity of the Nahariya submarine canyon, the longest of a system of ∼15 small blind canyons located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, offshore Israel. Two piston cores retrieved from the middle and outlet of the canyon, at 650 m and 915 m water depth, respectively, were the focus of a multi-proxy study aiming to characterize sediment transport and deposition along the canyon during the Last Glacial and up to the present. Both cores reveal a sequence of homogenous sediment of late last glacial age, which are capped by an unconformity overlying by fine laminated sediment dated to the last ∼200 years. Thus, the deglacial and most of the Holocene intervals are absent from the record. Evidence for down canyon sediment transport are abundant and include a 70 cm interval of mud clasts with disordered glacial ages that appears immediately below the hiatus, as well as broken calcareous shells of dead benthic foraminiferal species of shallow marine habitats, which are abundant throughout both cores. Similarly, shelf-derived living benthic foraminiferal species were found in the core-tops, indicating that active sediment transport persists along this canyon today. We conclude that the history of Nahariya submarine canyon includes a period of sediment accumulation that lasted until the last deglaciation. Thereafter, the canyon was dominated by an erosive regime that persisted throughout the Holocene. Sediment accumulation resumed ∼200 years ago. We suggest that the recent resumption of sediment-accumulation is a result of anthropogenic amplification of on-land soil erosion accompanied by a wet period that persisted in the region and enhanced land to sea sediment transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107217
JournalMarine Geology
StatePublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier B.V.


  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • Late Quaternary
  • Micropaleontology (forams)
  • Nahariya Canyon
  • Sediment transport
  • Submarine blind canyon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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