Last interglacial (MIS5e) sea-levels and uplift along the north-east Gulf of Aqaba

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Neta BAR (KOHN)1, Mordechai Stein2, Amotz Agnon1, Maayan Yehudai1, Boaz Lazar1 and Yonathan Shaked3, (1)Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, (2)Geological Survey of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel, (3)Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences, Eilat, Israel
An uplifted flight of coral reef terraces, extending along the north-east margin of the Gulf of Aqaba (GOA), provides evidence for uplift rates and sea level high stands. GOA fills a narrow and deep tectonic depression lying along the southern sector of the Dead Sea Transform where it meets the Red Sea. This special configuration of the GOA and its latitude turn it into a dependable paleo-sea level monitor, sensitive only to global eustatic changes and local tectonic movements.

A sequence of five uplifted coral reef terraces were mapped and characterized on basis of morphology and reef-facies, and their elevation above the present sea level was determined. The fossil reefs studied comprise fringing reefs, some with clear reef-structure that includes a reef flat and a shallow back lagoon. Most outcrops in the study area represent a transgressive sequence in which, during its highest stand, formed fringing reef terraces. We use U-Th ages of fossil corals samples found in growth position at various terraces.

Corals from three uplifted reef terraces, R1, R2, and R3 were dated to the last interglacial period particularly to marine isotope stage (MIS) 5e. These ages were achieved from mainly calcitic corals (recrystallized in a freshwater phreatic environment). A few ages were derived from aragonite corals. The three terraces represent three sub-stages within MIS5e: R3 formed during a short standstill at ~130 ka BP; R2 formed during a long and steady standstill between ~128 to ~121 ka BP; and R1 represents a short standstill at ~117 ka BP. Assuming that terrace reef flats represent past sea level high stands, we calculated the coast average uplift rate and constrained the original terraces elevations.

The reconstructed eustatic sea level variation during MIS 5e at GOA resembles observations from reef terraces in other locations. Combined, all indicate a significant sea-level rise from the MIS 6 low stand at ~134-130 ka and followed by a long and stable sea level high stand between ~128 to ~121 ka, representing a major reef building period. The long and stable sea level was followed by additional sea-level rise at ~118-116 ka that transgressed over the “stable reefs”.