In this study, we aim to characterize the main processes controlling 14CDIC concentrations in porewater at the shallow shelf (water depth less than 120 m) off the Mediterranean coast of Israel. At these water depths, we expected to find evidence for seawater penetration toward the coast, since this area was flooded by seawater only some 18,000 yr ago (the end of the Last Glacial period).
Measurements of the chemical composition (14CDIC) and stable carbon isotopic composition (δ13CDIC) were performed in several sediment cores (40–250 cm long) at water depths between 6 and 115 m. At water depths of 60 m, represented by a 2.5-m-long sediment core, the porewater 14CDIC levels (85–87 pMC) were lower than the corresponding sediment values in each layer (92–95 pMC), mainly due to the oxidation of relatively old organic matter (about 70 pMC) with no evidence to advection. In contrast, sediment cores from water depths shallower than 50 m showed only slight anaerobic oxidation and high 14CDIC values of approximately 100 pMC, indicating possible downward advection. These geochemical observations support the perception that the penetration of seawater into the coastal aquifer occurs at the shallow water zone (<50 m), while further verification by deeper cores is required.