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Seasonal variances in the palaeolake of Tayma (Saudi Arabia) seen in microfossils during the Early Holocene Humid Period

During the Early Holocene Humid Period (EHHP), a perennial lake was located in the endorheic depression north of the modern settlement of Tayma in Saudi Arabia. While the climate in this area is arid to hyperarid today, it was arid to semiarid during the EHHP. A deep lake phase occurred around the 8.2 ka BP climate deterioration that led to general cooling and drying on the Arabian Peninsula. Foraminifers and ostracods in the sediments of the sabkha basin represent a brackish to hypersaline inland water fauna, which provides valuable information on the past precipitation/evaporation balance. In the lower part of an analysed core section from the deepest part of the basin, they reflect the beginning of the EHHP with a transition to a more humid phase and the development from slightly saline wetlands to a shallow brackish lake, shown by increasing microfossil abundances, a decreasing adult/juvenile-ratio in ostracods, and an increase of δ13C. This culminated in a deep lake phase at ca. 8.3 cal. BP. Varved sediments from two sections contain ostracods and foraminifers which are more abundant in the dark layers, indicating more favorable living conditions during deposition of these layers. This is also indicated by higher frequencies of juvenile carapaces in the light layers, suggesting possibly higher juvenile mortality rates. A sieve pore analysis in ostracods valves proposes distinctly higher salinities during deposition of the light layers. The seasonal variances in the microfossil assemblages may reflect generally dry summers and more humid winters.


Anna Pint1, Ella Quante2, Peter Frenzel1, Eilyn Becher1, Max Engel3
1Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Germany; 2Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Germany;Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology, Jena; 3Institute of Geography, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg
GeoBerlin 2023