Late Holocene hydroclimatic history of the Galilee Mountains from sedimentary records of the Sea of Galilee, Israel

Abigail Williams, Emi Ito, Steffen Mischke, Daniel Palchan, Amir Sandler, Mordechai Stein, Ahuva Almogi-Labin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detrital sediments of the Sea of Galilee are predominantly pedogenic products of settled dust and local bedrocks transported from Upper Galilee and the Golan Heights. Using the mineralogy, chemistry, and Nd and Sr isotope ratios of the core LK12-22 collected offshore of the Ginosar valley and of contemporaneous soils from the Nahal Tzalmon and Nahal Amud catchments, we reconstructed Late Holocene regional hydroclimate. The core samples span Nd isotope values of-6 to-2 and 87Sr/86Sr ratios of 0.7075 to 0.7077 between the isotope fields of the Terra rossa soils and basaltic soils. Sediments from the drier Iron Age and Arabic and Ottoman periods are closer in Nd-Sr isotope ratios of the basaltic soils, while those of the wetter Middle to Late Bronze and Roman-Byzantine periods are closer to the Terra rossa soils, reflecting enhanced mobilization of sediments from the Tzalmon catchment where Terra rossa-type soils accumulated. This result corroborates other regional data that indicate semiarid to temperate conditions in the south Levant during most of the Late Holocene. Wetter conditions over the Galilee Mountains and the Ginosar valley catchment during the Roman period could have promoted the flourishing farming-fishing society that heralded the rise of Christianity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
StatePublished - Nov 15 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the following personnel at the GSI: Moti Diamant and Oz Dar Tsabari (surface-sediment sampling), Hadar Elyashiv (grain-size analysis), Michael Kitin (grain-size analysis and fieldwork assistance), and Yaacov Mizrachi (fieldwork assistance). We also thank Michal Ben Israel for assistance to AW in the isotope lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the Kinneret Limnological Laboratory for providing space to work and sharing data; Jonathan Laronne and Noa Hillel from Ben-Gurion University for obtaining Amud and Tzalmon discharge data; Chris Paola for discussion about sedimentary fabric of the core and, in particular, the flood deposits; Kristina Brady and Jess Heck for assistance in the Continental Scientific Drilling Facility; and Vania Stefanova and Amy Myrbo for assistance exploring the limits of the rbacon age–depth model. Constructive comments by Jay Quade, two anonymous reviewers, and associate editor Peter Langdon and guidance by the Senior Editor Derek Booth significantly improved the article. This study was supported by BSF US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (Award 2010347) to AA-L and EI.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Desert dust
  • Hydroclimate
  • Lake sediments
  • Late Holocene
  • Sea of Galilee
  • Soils
  • South Levant
  • Sr-Nd isotopes

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • LK


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