Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-pkhfk Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-13T00:31:23.764Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

49 - Stable Carbon and Oxygen Isotope Signatures of Pedogenic Carbonates in Arid and Extremely Arid Environments in the Levant

from Part V: - Quaternary Geomorphology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2017

Yehouda Enzel
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Ofer Bar-Yosef
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Get access


Pedogenic carbonate is widely used in the study of palaeoenvironments to address topics such as the evolution and spread of vegetation types, tectonic evolution of mountain ranges, Quaternary climate and the geologic carbon cycle. The most useful pedogenic carbonate palaeoenvironmental proxies developed thus far involve carbon and oxygen stable isotope geochemistry. The carbon isotopic composition of pedogenic carbonate is related to soil CO2, which is a function of atmospheric and biologically respired CO2. The latter is correlated with the proportion of C3 and C4 plant photosynthetic pathway.  The oxygen isotopic composition of soil carbonates is controlled by the temperature and by the isotopic composition of soil water. In this chapter, we summarize signatures of pedogenic and pseudo-pedogenic carbonate oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions in arid and extremely arid environments in the Levant in general and in the Negev, Israel in particular. Then we demonstrate (a) how sensitive these proxies are to present-day climatic conditions, and (b) how useful these proxies are as paleoclimate indicators.
Quaternary of the Levant
Environments, Climate Change, and Humans
, pp. 423 - 432
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2017

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alam, M.S., Keppens, E. & Paepe, R. 1997. The use of oxygen and carbon isotope composition of pedogenic carbonates from Pleistocene palaeosols in NW Bangladesh, as palaeoclimatic indicators. Quaternary Science Reviews 16: 161–8.Google Scholar
Alçiçek, H. & Alçiçek, M.C. 2014. Palustrine carbonates and pedogenic calcretes in the Çal basin of SW Anatolia: Implications for the Plio-Pleistocene regional climatic pattern in the eastern Mediterranean. Catena 112: 4855.Google Scholar
Alçiçek, H. & Jiménez-Moreno, G. 2013. Late Miocene to Pliocene fluvio-lacustrine system in Karacasu Basin (SW Anatolia, Turkey): Depositional, palaeogeographic and palaeoclimatic implications. Sedimentary Geology 291: 6283.Google Scholar
Amit, R., Zilberman, E. & Nahamias, Y. 2000. Chronosequence of calcic soils in Nahal Besor area. Geological Survey of Israel Report GSI/21/2000, 79.Google Scholar
Amit, R., Enzel, Y. & Sharon, D. 2006. Permanent Quaternary hyperaridity in the Negev, Israel, resulting from regional tectonics blocking Mediterranean frontal systems. Geology 34: 509–12.Google Scholar
Amit, R., Lekach, J., Ayalon, A., Porat, N. & Grodek, T. 2007. New insight into pedogenic processes in extremely arid environments and their paleoclimatic implications – the Negev desert, Israel. Quaternary International 162–163: 6175.Google Scholar
Amit, R., Enzel, Y., Grodek, T. et al. 2010. The role of rare rainstorms in the formation of calcic soil horizons on alluvial surfaces in extreme deserts. Quaternary Research 74: 177–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Amit, R., Simhai, O., Ayalon, A. et al. 2011. Transition from arid to hyperarid environment in the southern Levant deserts as recorded by early Pleistocene cummulic Aridisols. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 312–23.Google Scholar
Amundson, R.G., Chadwick, O.A., Sowers, J.M. & Doner, H.E. 1988. The relationship between modern climate and vegetation and the stable isotope chemistry of Mojave Desert soils. Quaternary Research 29: 245–54.Google Scholar
Amundson, R., Chadwick, O., Kendall, C., Wang, Y. & DeNiro, M. 1996. Isotopic evidence for shifts in atmospheric circulation patterns during the late Quaternary in mid-North America. Geology: 24: 23–6.Google Scholar
Biggs, T.H., Quade, J. & Webb, R.H. 2002. δ13C values of soil organic matter in semiarid grassland with mesquite (Prosopis) encroachment in southeastern Arizona. Geoderma 110: 109–30.Google Scholar
Birkeland, P.W. 1999. Soils and Geomorphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 372.Google Scholar
Breecker, D.O., Sharp, Z.D. & McFadden, L.D. 2009. Seasonality bias in the formation and stable isotopic composition of pedogenic carbonate in modern soils from central New Mexico, USA. Geological Society of America Bulletin 121: 630–40.Google Scholar
Cerling, T.E. 1984. The stable isotopic composition of modern soil carbonate and its relation to climate. Earth Planetary Science Letters 71: 229–40.Google Scholar
Cerling, T.E. 1991. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: Evidence from Cenozoic and Mesozoic paleosols. American Journal of Science 291: 377400.Google Scholar
Cerling, T.E. & Quade, J. 1993. Stable carbon and oxygen isotopes in soil carbonates. In Climate Change in Continental Isotopic Records, ed. Swart, P.K., Lohmann, K.C., McKenzie, J., Savin, S., Geophysical Monograph 78, pp. 217–31.Google Scholar
Cerling, T.E., Quade, J., Wang, Y. & Bowman, J. 1989. Soil and paleosols as ecologic and paleoecologic indicators. Nature 341: 138–9.Google Scholar
Cerling, T.E., Solomon, D.K., Quade, J. & Bowman, J.R. 1991. On the isotopic composition of carbon in soil carbon dioxide. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 55: 3403–5.Google Scholar
Connin, S.L., Virginia, R.A. & Chamberlain, C.P. 1997. Carbon isotopes reveal soil organic matter dynamics following arid land shrub expansion. Oecologia 110: 374–86.Google Scholar
Crouvi, O. 2009. Sources and Formation of Loess in the Negev Desert during the Late Quaternary, with Implications for Other Worldwide Deserts. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Google Scholar
Dan, J. & Yaalon, D.H. 1982. Automorphic saline soils in Israel. Catena Supplement 1: 103–15.Google Scholar
Dan, J., Gerson, R., Koyumdjisky, H., Yaalon, D. 1981. Aridic Soils of Israel, Special publication 190. Beit Dagan: Volcani Center, Division of Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
Davidson, G. R. 1995. The stable isotopic composition and measurement of carbon in soil CO2. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta 59: 2485–9.Google Scholar
Deines, P. 1980. The isotopic composition of reduced organic carbon. In Handbook of Environmental Isotope Geochemistry, 1A, ed. Fritz, P. and Fontes, J.Ch.. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 329406.Google Scholar
Enzel, Y. 1984. The Geomorphology of the Lower Sekher Valley. Unpublished M.Sc. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Google Scholar
Enzel, Y., Amit, R., Dayan, U. et al. 2008. The climatic and physiographic controls of the eastern Mediterranean over the late Pleistocene climates in the southern Levant and its neighboring deserts. Global and Planetary Change 60: 165–92.Google Scholar
Enzel, Y., Amit, R., Grodek, T. et al. 2012. Late Quaternary weathering, erosion, and deposition in Nahal Yael, Israel: An impact of climatic change on an arid watershed? Geological Society of America Bulletin 124: 705–22.Google Scholar
Feinbrun-Dothan, N. & Danin, A. 1998. Analytical Flora of Eretz–Israel. Jerusalem: CANA Publishing House, pp. 11008.Google Scholar
Gile, L.H., Hawley, J.W. & Grossman, R.B. 1981. Soils and Geomorphology in the Basin and Range, Southern New Mexico – Guidebook to the Desert Project. Memoir 39. Socorro: New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, p. 222.Google Scholar
Goodfriend, G.A. 1990. Rainfall in the Negev Desert during the middle Holocene, based on (super 13) C of organic matter in land snail shells. Quaternary Research 34: 186–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goodfriend, G.A. 1999. Terrestrial stable isotope records of Late Quaternary paleoclimates in the eastern Mediterranean region. Quaternary Science Reviews 18: 501–13.Google Scholar
Jenny, H. 1980. The Soil Resource: Origin and Behaviour, Ecological Studies 37. Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
Kahana, R., Ziv, B., Enzel, Y. & Dayan, U. 2002. Synoptic climatology of major floods in the Negev Desert, Israel. International Journal Climatology 22: 867–82.Google Scholar
Kelly, E.F., Amundson, R.G., Marino, B.D. & DeNiro, M.J. 1991. Stable isotope ratios of carbon in phytoliths as a quantitative method of monitoring vegetation and climate change. Quaternary Research 35: 222–33.Google Scholar
Lekach, J., Amit, R., Grodek, T. & Schick, A.P. 1998. Fluvio-pedogenic processes in an ephemeral stream channel, Nahal Yael, southern Negev, Israel. Geomorphology 23: 353–69.Google Scholar
Magaritz, M. 1986. Environmental changes recorded in the upper Pleistocene along the desert boundary, southern Israel. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 53: 213–29.Google Scholar
Magaritz, M., Gavish, E., Bakler, N. & Kafri, U. 1979. Carbon and oxygen isotope composition – indicators of cementation environment in recent, Holocene and Pleistocene sediments along the coast of Israel. Journal of Sedimentology Petrology 49: 401–12.Google Scholar
Magaritz, M., Kaufman, A. & Yaalon, D.H. 1981. Calcium carbonate nodules in soils: 18O/16O and 13C/12C ratios and 14C contents. Geoderma 25: 157–72.Google Scholar
Matmon, A., Simhai, O., Amit, R. et al. 2009. Desert pavement-coated surfaces in extreme deserts present the longest-lived landforms on Earth. Geological Society of America Bulletin 121: 688–97.Google Scholar
Meirovich, L., Ben-Zvi, A., Shentsis, I. & Yanovich, E. 1998. Frequency and magnitude of runoff events in the arid Negev of Israel. Journal of Hydrology 207: 204–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Menashe, R. 2003. The Stratigraphy and Paleo-geography of Tel-Sharuhen Section, North-western Negev, Israel. Unpublished M.Sc. thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. GSI/35/02, p. 95.Google Scholar
Mook, W.G., Bommerson, J.C. & Staverman, W.H. 1974. Carbon isotope fractionation between dissolved bicarbonate and gaseous carbon dioxide. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 22: 169–76.Google Scholar
Mortazavi, M., Moussavi-Harami, R., Brenner, R.L., Mahboubi, A. & Nadjafi, M. 2013. Stable isotope record in pedogenic carbonates in northeast Iran: Implications for Early Cretaceous (Berriasian–Barremian) paleovegetation and paleoatmospheric P(CO2) levels. Geoderma 211212: 8597.Google Scholar
Ode, D.J., Tieszen, L.L. & Lerman, J.C. 1980. The seasonal contribution of C3 and C4 plant species to primary production in a mixed prairie. Ecology 61: 1304–11.Google Scholar
Pustovoytov, K. & Taubald, H. 2003. Stable carbon and oxygen isotope composition of pedogenic carbonate at Göbekli Tepe (Southeastern Turkey) and its potential for reconstructing late Quaternary Paleoenvironments in Upper Mesopotamia. Neo-Lithics 2/03: 2532.Google Scholar
Pustovoytov, K., Deckers, K. & Goldberg, P. 2011. Genesis, age and archaeological significance of a pedosediment in the depression around Tell Mozan, Syria. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 913–24.Google Scholar
Quade, J., Cerling, T.E. & Bowman, J.R. 1989a. Development of Asian monsoon revealed by marked ecological shift during the latest Miocene in northern Pakistan. Nature 342: 163–6.Google Scholar
Quade, J., Cerling, T.E. & Bowman, J.R. 1989b. Systematic variations in the stable carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of pedogenic carbonate along elevation transects in the southern Great Basin, USA, Geological Society of America Bulletin 101: 464–75.Google Scholar
Quade, J., Rech, J.A., Latorre, C. et al. 2007. Soils at the hyperarid margin: the isotopic composition of soil carbonate from the Atacama Desert, northern Chile. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 71: 3772–95.Google Scholar
Rubin, S., Ziv, B. & Paldor, N. 2007. Tropical plumes over eastern north Africa as a source of rain in the Middle East. Monthly Weather Review 135: 4135–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vogel, J.C., Fuls, A. & Danin, A. 1986. Geographical and environmental distribution of C3 and C4 grasses in Sinai, Negev, and Judean deserts. Oecologia 70: 258–65.Google Scholar
Wang, Y., Cerling, T.E., Quade, J. et al. 1993. Stable isotopes of paleo-sols and fossil teeth as paleoecology and paleoclimate indicators: An example from the St. David formation, Arizona. In Climate Change in Continental Isotopic Records, ed. Swart, P.K., Lohmann, K.C., McKenzie, J. & Savin, S.. Geophysical Monograph 78, pp. 241–8.Google Scholar
Wang, L., Okin, G.S., Caylor, K.K. & Macko, S.A. 2009. Spatial heterogeneity and sources of soil carbon in southern African savannas. Geoderma 149: 402–8.Google Scholar
Wang, L., d'Odorico, P., Ries, L. & Macko, S.A. 2010. Patterns and implications of plant–soil δ13C and δ15N values in African savanna ecosystems. Quaternary Research 73: 7783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yaalon, D.H. 1971. Soil forming processes in time and space. In Paleo-pedology: Origin, Nature and Dating of Paleosols, ed. Yaalon, D.H.. Jerusalem: International Society of Soil Science and Israel Universities Press, pp. 2939.Google Scholar
Zangvil, A. & Druian, P. 1990. Upper air trough axis orientation and the spatial distribution of rainfall over Israel. International Journal of Climatology 10: 5762.Google Scholar
Zilberman, E. 1986. Pliocene–Early Pleistocene surfaces in the Northwestern Negev paleogeography and tectonic implications, Israel. Geological Survey of Israel Report GSI/26/86 [Hebrew, English summary].Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats