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Saharan Palaeohydrology Kevin White 1, Nick Drake 2, Simon Armitage 3, Ahmed El-Hawat 4, Mustafa Salem 5 1 University of Reading, UK 2 Kings College London,

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Presentation on theme: "Saharan Palaeohydrology Kevin White 1, Nick Drake 2, Simon Armitage 3, Ahmed El-Hawat 4, Mustafa Salem 5 1 University of Reading, UK 2 Kings College London,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Saharan Palaeohydrology Kevin White 1, Nick Drake 2, Simon Armitage 3, Ahmed El-Hawat 4, Mustafa Salem 5 1 University of Reading, UK 2 Kings College London, UK 3 Royal Holloway, University of London, UK 4 Gayounis University, Benghazi, Libya 5 Al Fatah University, Tripoli, Libya

2 Introduction Reconstructing Saharan palaeohydrology is of importance because 1. Impact on modern water resources

3 Introduction Reconstructing Saharan palaeohydrology is of importance because 1. Impact on modern water resources 2. Export of mineral aerosol

4 Introduction Reconstructing Saharan palaeohydrology is of importance because 1. Impact on modern water resources 2. Export of mineral aerosol 3. Impact on human migration out of Africa

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6 Lacustrine sediments widespread throughout the region, but when were the highstands and how large was the area inundated?

7 Field-based surveys are difficult in this terrain

8 Remote sensing enables fieldwork to be targeted to important palaeoenvironmental sites

9 Multispectral optical remote sensing enables identification of outcrops of lacustrine sediments rich in sulphates and carbonates 3 km

10 Radarsat Landsat ETM+ 5 km But heavily silicified limestones can only be identified by radar

11 Well developed cyclical sedimentation around the margins of the basin (over 500m a.s.l.)

12 Five limestone/sand cycles are found throughout the Fazzan basin, but only the top cycle is young enough to fall within the range of OSL dating (420 +/- 34 ka)

13 Coquinas (340m a.s.l), death assemblages representing nearshore beach ridges (113 ±10, 107 ±6, 97.7 ±5.1)

14 Interdunes in the Ubari sand sea (ca.500m a.s.l.), higher mesas 118 +27–20, 47 +17–13 and 14.3 +1.7–1.7 ka. Dark humic palaeolake sediments in the base of interdunes 9.12 +0.09-0.14, 8.31 +/- 0.5 BP 8.42 +0.04-0.12, 6.69 +0.03-0.05, 5.94 +/- 0.4, 3.36 +/- 0.45 ka

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16 Shorelines preserved adjacent to escarpment Shorelines dated and their heights determined using DGPS

17 200 km Maximum lake area (from SRTM3 DEM) is 134,617 km 2, drainage basin area is 450,000km 2 (ca. 1/3 rd catchment)

18 Though not as big as Lake MegaChad (344,320 km 2 ), Lake MegaFazzan is second largest Palaeolake in the Sahara 500m 527m 340m

19 Associated archaeology

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21 Modelling studies show that, in the vicinity of large water bodies, 6% lake cover affects the climate as much as orbital forcing (Coe and Foley 2003)

22 Remote sensing and DEM analyses enable palaeohydrological reconstruction of Lake MegaFazzan Its maximum size was about 134,617 km 2 Evidence of highstands at 420, 120, 74, 47, 30, 14 and 10 ka 4 as yet undated lacustrine cycles that are older than 420 ka Wet during much of the Early Holocene; however, evidence of abrupt shifts to arid conditions at 9.8, 7.4 and 6.0 ka Further study of relationship with highstands in surrounding basins is critical to understanding Saharan palaeoenvironments Conclusions


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