Aeolian dust transport and deposition over crete and adjacent parts of the mediterranean sea

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Abstract

Monitoring of dust deposition at several stations on Crete over a three year period has shown that the present-day depositional flux is of the order of 10-100 gm−2 yr−1. Most of the dust deposition takes place during a few annual dust [events] which typically last for 1-3 days. Dust haze episodes are usually associated with southerly or southwesterly winds which transport fine sediment from North Africa. Dust is raised by a wide variety of meteorological conditions which generate strong near-surface winds in the source areas, but major long-range transport events are often associated with cold fronts linked to the passage of deep mid-latitude depressions during winter and spring. Dust haze frequency and deposition rates are highest in western Crete and decrease towards the east, suggesting that transport from Tunisia and neighbouring parts of North Africa is particularly important. The measured rate of dust deposition is well below the minimum level required for loess formation. Deposits which have previously been identified as loess are shown to be uncemented marine marls of Tertiary age. Laboratory analysis of red soils, surface sediments, and bedrock samples has confirmed that many of the soils contain an important aeolian dust component, but it is concluded that a more important source of soil parent material is provided by weathering of local rocks. Many of the soils contain significant amounts of quartz sand which cannot have been transported across the sea from North Africa. Reworking of weathered material and deposited dust is extensive, and is accomplished by both aeolian and fluvial processes. Tectonically-controlled depressions in the mountains and parts of the coastal lowlands have acted as long-term sinks in which a thickness of several metres of sediment and soil has accumulated during the Quaternary.

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