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Precipitation Source Inferred from Stable Isotopic Composition of Pleistocene Groundwater and Carbonate Deposits in the Western Desert of Egypt

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Mohamed Sultan
Affiliation:
Environmental Research Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois, 60439
Neil Sturchio
Affiliation:
Environmental Research Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois, 60439
Fekri A. Hassan
Affiliation:
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H0PY, United Kingdom
Mohamed Abdel Rahman Hamdan
Affiliation:
Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt
Abdel Moneim Mahmood
Affiliation:
Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
Zeinhom El Alfy
Affiliation:
Egyptian Geological Survey and Mining Authority, 3 Salah Salem St., Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt
Tom Stein
Affiliation:
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130

Abstract

An Atlantic source of precipitation can be inferred from stable isotopic data (H and O) for fossil groundwaters and uranium-series-dated carbonate spring deposits from oases in the Western Desert of Egypt. In the context of available stable isotopic data for fossil groundwaters throughout North Africa, the observed isotopic depletions (δD −72 to −81‰; δ18O −10.6 to −11.5‰) of fossil (≥32,000 yr B.P.) groundwaters from the Nubian aquifer are best explained by progressive condensation of water vapor from paleowesterly wet oceanic air masses that traveled across North Africa and operated at least as far back as 450,000 yr before the present. The values of δ18O (17.1 to 25.9‰) for 45,000- to >450,000-yr-old tufas and vein-filling calcite deposits from the Kharga and Farafra Oases are consistent with deposition from groundwaters having oxygen isotopic compositions similar to those of fossil groundwaters sampled recently at these locations.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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Precipitation Source Inferred from Stable Isotopic Composition of Pleistocene Groundwater and Carbonate Deposits in the Western Desert of Egypt
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