Slope retreat rates estimated from chronology of tufa deposits sheltered by inland notches on Mt. Carmel, Israel

Nurit Shtober-Zisu, Anton Vaks, Dorit Korngreen, Amos Frumkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inland notches are elongated half tube indentations that develop on the carbonate rocky cliffs of mountainous zones. Occasionally tufa accumulates within notches as stalactites, drapes and crusts, covering the cavity backwall or floors. In attempt to determine the age of the latest stage of notch formation and calculate the relative rate of slope retreat, U[sbnd]Th dating was used on 16 tufa samples from 2 notches, providing 28 ages. Tufa grow during the time interval between the backwall erosion and visor collapse, and therefore tufa age is an approximation of the timing of the formation of the surface it developed on, i.e. the age of the notch. The oldest known tufa sample is 39.0 ± 10.4 ky (2σ), and the ages of other tufa samples range from 2.1 to 23.3 ky. At the Nahal Oren notch, the present-day backwall formed by the end of the last glacial period (14 to18 ky), whereas the visor in its present form is from the early Holocene (7 to10 ky). The oldest sample was found ~1 m from the backwall, suggesting that backwall retreat rate ranges from 20 to 35 mm/ky. Other samples were deposited 50 to 200 cm from the visor edge, suggesting that slope retreat order of magnitude ranges from 101 to 102 mm/ky. The backwall of the Nesher notch formed between 10 and 14 ky. Our results correspond with the rates of tens of meters per million years, similar to the magnitude of denudation found by previous studies in the Mediterranean zone of Israel. Dating tufa deposits is a good proxy to estimate the rate of erosion in carbonate slope retreat; however, a precautionary approach should be taken, as rock particles from the eroded bedrock might embed within the tufa, affecting the age results. Questionable samples can be identified using Cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107319
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Denudation
  • Inland notches
  • Mediterranean zone
  • Slope retreat
  • Tufa dating
  • U-Th dating
  • Weathering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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