This study describes the field and petrographic relationships of a widespread deposit of Pleistocene travertines in the northern Hula Valley, northern Israel. The travertines interfinger with conglomerate deposits and basaltic lava flows. Field relationships and radiometric dating indicate that the travertines accumulated intermittently over the past million years, and their formation virtually stopped 25 000 years ago.
The travertines are characteristically highly porous. Some of the pores, as well as some spar-filled voids, preserve the shapes of stalks and leaves. The abundance of plant material suggests that photosynthesis, rather than bacterial or abiogenic processes, was the main mechanism which induced carbonate precipitation.
The reasons for travertine accumulation in the past and for the cessation of its formation today are ascribed to differences in the palaeogeographic setting. In the past, water flow is viewed as having been mostly sluggish, and a widespread and shallow sheet of water was formed. The lush vegetation, combined with the relatively long residence time of the water in the area, led to increased efficiency of the calcium carbonate precipitation. Today, by contrast, water flows rapidly in gorges, precipitating only a small fraction of its load of dissolved calcium carbonate. The conjectured change in hydrological conditions is ascribed to rejuvenation of faulting activity in the Late Quaternary.