Benthic foraminifera as indicators of recent mixed turbidite-contourite sediment transport system in the Eastern Mediterranean upper continental slope, offshore Israel

L. Ashkenazi, O. Katz, S. Abramovich, A. Almogi-Labin, Y. Makovsky, O. Gadol, M. Kanari, P. Masque, O. Hyams-Kaphzan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nile derived siliciclastic sediments are the main source of sedimentation along the Levant continental margins of the Mediterranean Sea. These sediments are transported along the southeastern Mediterranean coast via well-documented longshore currents, mainly operating along the shelf. However, the cross shelf component of sediment transport, responsible for conveying sediments toward the upper slope, is less known. To better understand the cross-shelf vs. the longshore component of sediment transport we studied a ~6 m long piston core (DOR280) sampled on the upper continental slope (280 m water depth) and analyzed benthic foraminiferal assemblages and their shell taphonomy alongside the particle size distribution and mineralogy of bulk sediments, to document both the source and the transport mechanism of those upper continental-slope sediments. The radiocarbon dating at the core-base is ~650 Cal. Yrs BP, indicating an exceptionally high average sedimentation rate of ~800 cm/kyr. DOR280 consists of two alternating distinct sedimentary facies: (1) laminated (L) intervals up to ~40 cm thick each and showing a high ratio of allochthonous vs. autochthonous (allo/auto) benthic foraminiferal species and a high percentage of broken shells, indicating contribution of transported sediments originating from mid-shelf habitats; (2) non-laminated (NL) intervals up to ~200 cm thick each and showing a low allo/auto ratio and low percentages of broken shells, indicating mostly in-situ hemipelagic deposition. The L intervals are interpreted here as turbidites. The sedimentation rates calculated only for the NL intervals are still exceptionally high, thus excluding hemipelagic sedimentation as the sole mechanism for the NL deposition. Therefore, a contour bottom current transported component is suggested here as a source of the NL sedimentation. We conclude that a mixed contourite-turbidite system actively prevails along the upper continental slope of the Levant coast, offshore Israel. The mid-shelf to upper slope sediment transport is nearly continuous and presents occasional turbidite events of average decadal reoccurrence time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106756
JournalMarine Geology
Volume445
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Hazard
  • SE Mediterranean continental slope
  • Taphonomy
  • Turbidite contourite mix system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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