Lithology of the long sediment record recovered by the ICDP Dead Sea Deep Drilling Project (DSDDP)

DSDDP Scientific Party

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sedimentary sections that were deposited from the Holocene Dead Sea and its Pleistocene precursors are excellent archives of the climatic, environmental and seismic history of the Levant region. Yet, most of the previous work has been carried out on sequences of lacustrine sediments exposed at the margins of the present-day Dead Sea, which were deposited only when the lake surface level rose above these terraces (e.g. during the Last Glacial period) and typically are discontinuous due to major lake level variations in the past. Continuous sedimentation can only be expected in the deepest part of the basin and, therefore, a deep drilling has been accomplished in the northern basin of the Dead Sea during winter of 2010-2011 within the Dead Sea Deep Drilling Project (DSDDP) in the framework of the ICDP program. Approximately 720m ofsediment cores have been retrieved from two deep and several short boreholes. The longest profile (5017-1), revealed at a water depth of ~300m, reaches 455m below the lake floor (blf, i.e. to ~1175m below global mean sea level) and comprises approximately the last 220-240ka. The record covers the upper part of the Amora (penultimate glacial), the Last Interglacial Samra,the Last Glacial Lisan and the Holocene Ze'elim Formations and, therewith, two entire glacial-interglacial cycles. Thereby, for the first time, consecutive sediments deposited during the MIS 6/5, 5/4 and 2/1 transitions were recovered from the Dead Sea basin, which are not represented in sediments outcropping on the present-day lake shores. In this paper, we present essential lithological data including continuous magnetic susceptibility and geochemical scanning data and the basic stratigraphy including first chronological data of the long profile (5017-1) from the deep basin. The results presented here (a) focus on the correlation of the deep basin deposits with main on-shore stratigraphic units, thus providing a unique comprehensive stratigraphic framework for regional paleoenvironmental reconstruction, and (b) highlight the outstanding potential of the Dead Sea deep sedimentary archive to record hydrological changes during interglacial, glacial and transitional intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 5 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, which improved the quality of the manuscript substantially. Funding by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) , the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ, Potsdam) , the German Science Foundation (DFG ; grants FR 1672/2-1 and BR 2208/10-1 ), the Israel Science Foundation (ISF; Center of Excellence Grant # 1736/11 to YE and ZBA) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF ; grant EAR 11-15312 ) is gratefully acknowledged. The ICDP Dead Sea Deep Drilling Project would not have been possible without the great commitment and initial project idea of Prof. Jörg F. W. Negendank. We thank DOSECC for performing the drilling operation, the Moti Gonen Marine Station in Ein Gedi for all issues related to the organizational support and the ICDP Operational Support Group (Uli Harms, Ronald Conze, Jochem Kück, Matxalen Rey Abasolo, Martin Töpfer and Christian Carnein) for downhole logging and assistance with the Drilling Information System. Further we want to cordially thank the numerous assistants, students and professionals during the drilling, core opening and sampling campaigns and Andreas Hendrich (GFZ Potsdam) for help with the figure design. This study is a contribution to the Helmholtz Association (HGF) climate initiative REKLIM Topic 8 ‘Rapid climate change derived from proxy data’.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Hypersaline lakes
  • ICDP Dead sea deep drilling project
  • Laminated sediments
  • Levant paleoclimate
  • Sediment facies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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