Dead Sea deep cores: A window into past climate and seismicity
The area surrounding the Dead Sea was the locus of humankind's migration out of Africa and thus has been the home of peoples since the Stone Age. For this reason, understanding the climate and tectonic history of the region provides valuable insight into archaeology and studies of human history and helps to gain a better picture of future climate and tectonic scenarios. The deposits at the bottom of the Dead Sea are a geological archive of the environmental conditions (e.g., rains, floods, dust storms, droughts) during ice ages and warm ages, as well as of seismic activity in this key region. An International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) deep drilling project was performed in the Dead Sea between November 2010 and March 2011. The project was funded by the ICDP and agencies in Israel, Germany, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States. Drilling was conducted using the new Large Lake Drilling Facility (Figure 1), a barge with a drilling rig run by DOSECC, Inc. (Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust), a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing scientific drilling worldwide. The main purpose of the project was to recover a long, continuous core to provide a high resolution record of the paleoclimate, paleoenvironment, paleoseismicity, and paleomagnetism of the Dead Sea Basin. With this, scientists are beginning to piece together a record of the climate and seismic history of the Middle East during the past several hundred thousand years in millennial to decadal to annual time resolution.
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The dedication of the DOSECC drill crew was instrumental for this project's success. Along with the ICDP, funds were provided by the Israel Science Foundation; Dead Sea Works; the Israel ministries of Sciences and of National Infrastructures; U.S. National Science Foundation; Swiss National Science Foundation; GFZ Potsdam; the University of Bergen in Norway; and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). For a list of principal investigators representing the participating institutes and countries, see the online supplementary material at http://www.agu.org/journals/eo/v092/i049/2011EO490001/2011EO490001_suppl.pdf.