Inland notches: lithological characteristics and climatic implications of subaerial cavernous landforms in Israel

Nurit Shtober-Zisu, Hani Amasha, Amos Frumkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inland notches, are elongated concave-shape indentations that develop on the carbonate rocky cliffs of mountainous zones, down to the desert fringe. These rock shelters form as a result of the interaction between specific petrologic characteristics and climatic controls, emphasizing the importance of environment upon rock decay. Inland notches are shaped due to slight differences (1–15%) in the porosity of the visor and cavity bed: the cavity bed is more porous, so more likely to erode by exfoliation and dissolution. Thus, the cavity bed retreats at a faster rate compared to the slower subaerial dissolution of the visor bed, until a critical point is reached where the visor collapses. In Israel, inland notches inhabit the same lithostratigraphic units as do large caves. The vast majority (71%) of inland notches are formed in hard, dense, and crystalline limestone deposited throughout the Turonian age. Another 27% are cut into the dolomitic sequence of the upper Albian and lower Cenomanian. The rest (2%) are dispersed in the various formations of the Cenomanian and Eocene eras. Notches are most common in semi-arid and in Mediterranean climates but mainly in areas with annual rainfall of between 400 mm and 850 mm. In more humid areas (> 900 mm/yr) notches are negligible or completely absent, due to the rapid rate of chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks. In the desert fringe (200–300 mm/yr), mechanical decay is accelerated and notches exhibit disintegration processes, visor collapse, and rock falls. In the desert area (< 200 mm/yr), salt decay replaces the chemical decay characteristic of inland notches, encouraging tafoni formation. In addition, notches form through fluvial activity or on account of greater petrophysical differences between consecutive beds; i.e. elongated cavities may form in soft rocks, shaded by harder visors or crusts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1820-1832
Number of pages13
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number12
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • exfoliation
  • inland notch
  • rock decay
  • rock shelter
  • tafoni

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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