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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 01 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 01 Oct 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Early–mid Miocene erosion rates measured in pre-Dead Sea rift Hazeva River using cosmogenic 21Ne in fluvial chert pebbles

Michal Ben-Israel1, Ari Matmon1, Alan J. Hidy2, Yoav Avni3, and Greg Balco4 Michal Ben-Israel et al.
  • 1The Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 91904, Israel
  • 2Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
  • 3Geological Survey of Israel, Yesha'yahu Leibowitz 32, Jerusalem, 96921, Israel
  • 4Berkeley Geochronology Center, Berkeley, California, 94709, USA

Abstract. The Miocene Hazeva River was a large fluvial system (estimated catchment size > 100 000 km2) that drained the Arabian Plateau and Sinai Peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea during the Early–Mid Miocene. It was established after rifting of the Red Sea uplifted the Arabian Plateau during the Oligocene. Following late Miocene to early Pliocene subsidence along the Dead Sea Rift, the Hazeva drainage system was abandoned and dissected, resulting in new drainage divides on either side of the rift. We utilized a novel application of cosmogenic 21Ne measurements in chert to compare modern erosion rates with Miocene erosion rates that operated when the Hazeva River was active. We find that modern erosion rates derived from cosmogenic 21Ne, 26Al, and 10Be in exposed in situ chert nodules to be extremely slow, between 2–4 mm/kyr. Comparison between modern and paleo erosion rates, measured in chert pebbles, is not straightforward, as cosmogenic 21Ne was acquired partly during bedrock exhumation and partly during transport of these pebbles in the Hazeva River. However, even with bedrock erosion and maintained transport along this big river, 21Ne concentrations measured in Miocene cherts are lower (range between 3.66 ± 1.9 × 106 and 8.97 ± 1.39 × 106 atoms/g SiO2) compared to 21Ne concentrations measured in the currently eroding chert nodules (8.08 ± 1.48 × 106 and 12.10 ± 2.43 × 106 atoms/g SiO2). 21Ne concentrations in Miocene cherts correspond to minimum erosion rates that are at least twice as fast as rates calculated today. We attribute these faster erosion rates to a combination of continuous uplift and significantly wetter climatic conditions during the Miocene.

Michal Ben-Israel et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Michal Ben-Israel et al.
Michal Ben-Israel et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
During the Miocene (18 Ma), the massive Hazeva River drained the western flank Arabian Peninsula into the Mediterranean, before it was dismantled in the early Pliocene. During this time, rates of erosion were dramatically higher (at least twice as fast) compared to modern rates. We attribute the change in rates of surface processes to either topographic changes brought on by tectonic activity, wetter conditions in the region during the Miocene compared to the current hyper-arid climate, or both.
During the Miocene (18 Ma), the massive Hazeva River drained the western flank Arabian Peninsula...