Stratigraphy, depositional environments and level reconstruction of the last interglacial Lake Samra in the Dead Sea basin

N. Waldmann, M. Stein, D. Ariztegui, A. Starinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we describe the stratigraphy and sediments deposited in Lake Samra that occupied the Dead Sea basin between ∼ 135 and 75 ka. This information is combined with U/Th dating of primary aragonites in order to estimate a relative lake-level curve that serves as a regional paleohydrological monitor. The lake stood at an elevation of ∼ 340 m below mean sea level (MSL) during most of the last interglacial. This level is relatively higher than the average Holocene Dead Sea (∼ 400 ± 30 m below MSL). At ∼ 120 and ∼ 85 ka, Lake Samra rose to ∼ 320 m below MSL while it dropped to levels lower than ∼ 380 m below MSL at ∼ 135 and ∼ 75 ka, reflecting arid conditions in the drainage area. Lowstands are correlated with warm intervals in the Northern Hemisphere, while minor lake rises are probably related to cold episodes during MIS 5b and MIS 5d. Similar climate relationships are documented for the last glacial highstand Lake Lisan and the lowstand Holocene Dead Sea. Yet, the dominance of detrital calcites and precipitation of travertines in the Dead Sea basin during the last interglacial interval suggest intense pluvial conditions and possible contribution of southern sources of wetness to the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study benefited from constructive assistance of numerous people both in the lab and the field. Among all, we would like to thank Eitan Shelef, Adi Torfstein and Boaz Tatarsky for their productive discussions and assistance during fieldwork. Yuval Bartov, Revital Bookman, Efrat Farber, Nissim Hazan and Elisa Kagan are also kindly acknowledged for their discussions and fruitful help. We also thank Anton Vaks and Mira Bar-Matthews for alpha-counting U/Th measurements of several Samra samples and helpful discussions. The field expeditions could not have been accomplished without the assistance and logistic support of the Geological Survey of Israel. The manuscript profited from constructive reviews of Tzvia Schweitzer and Milan Beres. We owe major improvement of this article to the outstanding reviews of Prof. Yehouda Enzel and Dr. Claire Rambeau. The work was supported by a GIF grant (#I-805.221.8/2003 to MS).


  • Dead Sea basin
  • Lacustrine depositional environments
  • Lake level
  • Last interglacial
  • Paleoclimate
  • Paleolimnology
  • Sedimentary basins
  • Sequence stratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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