06 Jun 2023
 | 06 Jun 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Monsoon-driven changes in aeolian and fluvial sediment input to the central Red Sea recorded throughout the last 200,000 years

Werner Ehrmann, Paul A. Wilson, Helge W. Arz, Hartmut Schulz, and Gerhard Schmiedl

Abstract. Climatic and associated hydrological changes controlled the transport processes and composition of the sediments in the central Red Sea during the last ca. 200 kyr. Three different source areas for mineral dust are identified. The dominant source is located in the eastern Sahara (Sudan and southernmost Egypt). We identify its imprint on Red Sea sediments by high smectite and Ti contents, high 87Sr/86Sr and low εNd. The availability of deflatable sediments was controlled by the intensity of tropical rainfall and vegetation cover over northern Africa linked to the African monsoon. Intense dust input to the Red Sea occurred during arid phases, low input during humid phases. A second, less significant source indicated by palygorskite input is probably located on the eastern Arabian Peninsula and/or Mesopotamia, while the presence of kaolinite suggests an additional minor dust source in northern Egypt. Our grain size data reflect episodes of fluvial sediment discharge to the central Red Sea and document the variable strength in response to all of the precession-paced insolation maxima during our study interval including both those that were strong enough to trigger sapropel formation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and those that were not. The African Humid Period most strongly expressed in our Red Sea record was the one during the Eemian last interglacial at ca. 125 ka, followed by those at 198 ka, 108 ka, 84 ka and 6 ka.

Werner Ehrmann et al.

Status: open (extended)

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Werner Ehrmann et al.

Werner Ehrmann et al.


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Short summary
Climatic and associated hydrological changes controlled the aeolian versus fluvial transport processes and the composition of the sediments in the central Red Sea through the last ca. 200 kyr. We identify source areas of the mineral dust and pulses of fluvial discharge based on high-resolution grain size, clay mineral and geochemical data, together with Nd and Sr isotope data. We provide a detailed reconstruction of changes in aridity/humidity.