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Abrasion-derived sediments under intensified winds at the latest Pleistocene leading edge of the advancing Sinai–Negev erg

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Yehouda Enzel*
The Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel
Rivka Amit
Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malkhe Israel Street, Jerusalem 95501, Israel
Onn Crouvi
The Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malkhe Israel Street, Jerusalem 95501, Israel
Naomi Porat
Luminescence Dating Laboratory, Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malkhe Israel Street, Jerusalem 95501, Israel
Corresponding author. Fax: +972 2 5662581. E-mail (Y. Enzel),, (O. Crouvi), (N. Porat).


Quaternary desert loess and sandstone–loessite relationships in the geological record raise questions regarding causes and mechanisms of silt formation and accretion. In the northern Sinai–Negev desert carbonate terrain, only sand abrasion in active erg could have produced the large quantities of quartzo-feldspathic silts constituting the late Quaternary northwestern Negev loess. In the continuum of source (medium to fine sand of dunes) to sink (silts in loess) the very fine sand is unaccounted for in the record. This weakens the sand abrasion model of silt formation as a global process. Here, we demonstrate that, as predicted by experiments, abrasion by advancing dunes generated large quantities of very fine sand (60–110 μm) deposited within the dune field and in close proximity downwind. This very fine sand was generated 13–11 ka, possibly synchronous with the Younger Dryas under gusty sand/dust storms in the southeastern Mediterranean and specifically in the northern Sinai–Negev erg. These very fine sands were washed down slope and filled small basins blocked by the advancing dunes; outside these sampling basins it is difficult to identify these sands as a distinct product. We conclude that ergs are mega-grinders of sand into very fine sand and silt under windy Quaternary and ancient aeolian desert environments.

Research Article
University of Washington

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1 Fax: +972 2 5380688.


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