Possible connection between large volcanic eruptions and level rise episodes in the Dead Sea Basin

Revital Bookman, Sagi Filin, Yoav Avni, Daniel Rosenfeld, Shmuel Marco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The June 1991 Pinatubo volcanic eruption perturbed the atmosphere, triggering short-term worldwide changes in surface and lower troposphere temperatures, precipitation, and runoff. The following winter was anomalously wet in the Levant, with a ~2-m increase in the Dead Sea level that created a distinct morphological terrace along the lake's shore. Given the global radiative and chemical effects of volcanogenic aerosols on climatic systems, we tested the hypothesis that the 1991-92 winter shore terrace is a modern analogue to the linkage between past volcanic eruptions and a sequence of shore terraces on the cliffs around the Dead Sea Basin (DSB). Sixteen shore terraces, detected using airborne laser scanning data, were interpreted as indicating short-term level rises due to episodes of enhanced precipitation and runoff during the dramatic drop in Lake Lisan's (palaeo-Dead Sea) level at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. The terraces were compared with a dated time series of volcanogenic sulfate from the GISP2 ice core, and similar numbers of sulfate concentration peaks and shore terraces were found. Furthermore, a significant correlation was found between SO4 concentration peaks and the heights of the terraces. This correlation may indicate a link between the explosivity of past eruptions, the magnitude of stratospheric injection, and their impact on the northern hemisphere water balance. The record of such short-term climato-hydrological effects is made possible by the dramatic desiccation of Lake Lisan. Detailed records of such events, albeit rare because of their vulnerability and short longevity, provide an important demonstration of global climatic teleconnections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge funding by the Israel Science Foundation grant #1736/11 to S. Marco.


  • Abrupt climate events
  • Dead Sea Basin
  • Lake level
  • Shore terraces
  • Volcanic eruptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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