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Character, Rates, and Environmental Significance of Holocene Dust Accumulation in Archaeological Hilltop Ruins in the Southern Levant

1
Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Wetterkreuz 15, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
2
Geomorphology and Portable Luminescence Laboratory, Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel
3
Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research & Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva 8410501, Israel
4
School of Natural Resources Engineering and Management, German Jordanian University, Madaba, Amman 11180, Jordan
5
Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany
6
Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie gGmbH, 68159 Mannheim, Germany
7
Geological Survey of Israel, Jerusalem 9692100, Israel
8
14Chrono Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 6AX, UK
9
Israel Antiquities Authority, Omer 8496500, Israel
10
Ancient Near Eastern Empires Centre of Excellence, P.O. Box 3, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(4), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9040190
Received: 16 March 2019 / Revised: 6 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 24 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aeolian Processes and Geomorphology)
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Abstract

Loess accumulated in the Negev desert during the Pleistocene and primary and secondary loess remains cover large parts of the landscape. Holocene loess deposits are however absent. This could be due low accumulation rates, lack of preservation, and higher erosion rates in comparison to the Pleistocene. This study hypothesized that archaeological ruins preserve Holocene dust. We studied soils developed on archaeological hilltop ruins in the Negev and the Petra region and compared them with local soils, paleosols, geological outcrops, and current dust. Seven statistically modeled grain size end-members were identified and demonstrate that the ruin soils in both regions consist of mixtures of local and remote sediment sources that differ from dust compositions deposited during current storms. This discrepancy is attributed to fixation processes connected with sediment-fixing agents such as vegetation, biocrusts, and/or clast pavements associated with vesicular layers. Average dust accretion rates in the ruins are estimated to be ~0.14 mm/a, suggesting that ~30% of the current dust that can be trapped with dry marble dust collectors has been stored in the ruin soils. Deposition amounts and grain sizes do not significantly correlate with wind intensity. However, precipitation may have contributed to dust accretion. A snowstorm in the Petra region delivered a significantly higher amount of sediment than rain or dry deposition. Snowfall dust had a unique particle size distribution relatively similar to the ruin soils. Wet deposition and snow might catalyze dust deposition and enhance fixation by fostering vegetation and crust formation. More frequent snowfall during the Pleistocene may have been an important mechanism of primary loess deposition in the southern Levant. View Full-Text
Keywords: loess; Holocene; ruin soil; archaeological sediment; vesicular layer; aeolian dust; biocrusts; clast pavements; climate change; snow loess; Holocene; ruin soil; archaeological sediment; vesicular layer; aeolian dust; biocrusts; clast pavements; climate change; snow
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Lucke, B.; Roskin, J.; Vanselow, K.A.; Bruins, H.J.; Abu-Jaber, N.; Deckers, K.; Lindauer, S.; Porat, N.; Reimer, P.J.; Bäumler, R.; Erickson-Gini, T.; Kouki, P. Character, Rates, and Environmental Significance of Holocene Dust Accumulation in Archaeological Hilltop Ruins in the Southern Levant. Geosciences 2019, 9, 190.

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