Mount Sedom salt diapir - Source for sulfate replenishment and gypsum supersaturation in the last glacial Dead Sea (Lake Lisan)

Elan J. Levy, Orit Sivan, Gilad Antler, Boaz Lazar, Mordechai Stein, Yossi Yechieli, Ittai Gavrieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


During the late Quaternary several hypersaline lakes occupied the tectonic depression of the Dead Sea Basin, depositing sequences of primary-evaporitic mineral phases: aragonite (CaCO3), gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) and halite (NaCl). Aragonite and gypsum were the dominant primary mineral phases during the glacial periods and their formation required significant import of bicarbonate (HCO3 ) and sulfate (SO4 2−) ions to the lake. While bicarbonate was likely derived from dissolution of calcite in the watershed, the sources of sulfate remained elusive. Here we investigate and quantify the long-term sulfate reservoir changes in the deep waters (hypolimnion) of Lake Lisan (the last glacial Dead Sea) using concentrations and stable isotopes of sulfur in pore-fluids from the cores that were drilled at the lake floor (2010–11) by ICDP (International Continental Drilling Program). From ca. 117ka, pore-fluid sulfate concentrations increased and the brine attained supersaturation with respect to gypsum, peaking during the last glacial maximum (LGM; ca. 20ka). Stable isotopes of pore-fluid sulfate (δ34S and δ18O) are similar to the values found in bulk sulfate minerals from the nearby Mount Sedom salt diapir. We suggest that relatively diluted and cool paleo-epilimnion water facilitated dissolution of halite and anhydrite (CaSO4) of the Mt. Sedom salt diapir, resulting in a localized increase in solution density. Subsequently, this solution sank and mixed with saline hypolimnion water, simultaneously replenishing chloride, sodium and sulfate reservoirs, while diluting it with respect to other solutes. The mixing of the calcium-rich gypsum saturated hypolimnion and the sulfate-rich sinking brine from above resulted in gypsum supersaturation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105871
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Dead sea
  • Lake Lisan
  • Last glacial
  • Mt. Sedom diapir
  • Pore-fluid
  • Sulfate isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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