Interpreting Soft Sediment Deformation and Mass Transport Deposits as Seismites in the Dead Sea Depocenter

Yin Lu, Nicolas Waldmann, G. Ian Alsop, Shmuel Marco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have studied the history of earthquakes over the past 70 kyr by analyzing disturbed sedimentary layers around the margins of the Dead Sea. However, we know little about disturbances in the basin depocenter, where water depth is ~300 m, and accessible only by drilling. In this study, we compare disturbances from the Dead Sea depocenter, with the contemporaneous earthquake record (~56–30 ka) that was recovered on the western margin of the lake. This comparison allows us to discern the characteristics of disturbance in the different subaqueous environments and identify the source and sedimentary process of mass transport deposits. Our observations indicate that (i) the long disturbance sequences in the Dead Sea depocenter are composed of in situ deformation, slump, and chaotic deposits; (ii) earthquake-triggered Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability is a plausible mechanism for the in situ deformation in the lake center; (iii) the slump is slope area sourced; (iv) the unit of chaotic deposits is lakeshore sourced; and (v) earthquake-triggered slope instability is a viable mechanism for the slump and chaotic deposits. We further suggest that long sequences of disturbance in seismically active lake depocenters can be used to infer earthquake clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8305-8325
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the funding agencies for this project: the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF; Center of Excellence grant 1436/14 to S. M.). Y. L. is grateful to the Faculty of Exact Sciences in Tel Aviv University for the Postdoctorate Fellowship. We thank Or M. Bialik for help with using the Corelyzer software and Nimer Taha for help with lab work. We thank Cecilia McHugh, Maarten Van Daele, and Associate Editor Brandon Dugan for their constructive comments, which improved the quality of the manuscript substantially. We thank Editor Uri ten Brink for handling this manuscript. Special thanks to Maarten Van Daele for help with identification the artificial deformation structures (the contribution is shown as supporting information, Slide S1). Supporting information in the form of figures and Powerpoint is provided in the electronic supplement. All of the numerical information is provided in the figures in the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • Dead Sea
  • chaotic deposits
  • earthquakes
  • in situ deformation
  • large-scale disturbance
  • slump

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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