Levant jet system-effect of post LGM seafloor currents on Nile sediment transport in the eastern Mediterranean

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Sedimentary development of a continental margin is directly related to seafloor current dynamics. Yet the linkage between the processes remains vague due to the different time scales they represent. To narrow this gap we focus on the thoroughly studied distribution system of Nile derived sediments across the Levant continental margin (eastern Mediterranean). These sediments dominate the Late Quaternary stratigraphy of the entire margin. Their mobilization has been explained exclusively by longshore transport, while oceanographic evidence from the basin and margin are not incorporated in the known mechanism. New data indicates that longshore mechanism is part of a much larger system. Based on integrated interpretation of multibeam bathymetry, high-resolution single-channel seismic reflection and oceanographic (temperature, salinity and chlorophyll) data we suggest a jet current system mobilizes the Levant Surface Water (LSW), Levant Intermediate Water (LIW) and Atlantic Water (AW) northwards along the margin, between 0 and 400 m water depths. On the seafloor, contourite currents form elongated along-strike morphologies. Below 400 m along-dip gravity flows dominate sediment transport to down the slope, below the Eastern Mediterranean Deep Water (EMDW). Initiation of this mechanism during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and not at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) indicates a gradual recovery of the thermo-haline circulation. Current intensification in the early Holocene may have also increased water stratification. This comprehensive mechanism explains sediment transport along the entire depth range of the continental margin, while integrating seafloor currents, morphology, as well as their relation to sea level rise and stratigraphy of water masses in the Levant basin since the LGM. Given the consistency of seafloor currents throughout the Holocene we propose to address them as the Levant Jet System.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-39
Number of pages12
JournalSedimentary Geology
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Continental shelf
  • Contourite currents
  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • Nile
  • Seafloor currents
  • Shelf break jet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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