, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 175-190

Upper Pleistocene and Holocene lakes in the An Nafud, Saudi Arabia

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Summary

Two major lake periods were discovered in the sand sea of An Nafud and the surrounding areas. In Upper Pleistocene large lakes occurred around the dune area and in the interior of the sand sea. Their deposits were formed between 34 000 and 24 000 BP. The lakes were not conformous to the present dune relief. They had an extension of several km2 and a depth of ca. 10 m. Holocene lakes (8 400–5 400 BP) were of minor extension and restricted to the interdune depressions. Lake sediments consist of cemented sand, calcareous crusts and diatomites. Upper Pleistocene lakes were fresh water lakes, the Halocene lakes were mostly swamps depending on rising and falling aquifers in the dunes. Plant remains as pollen and macro rests show that the environmental changes didn't exceed the system of semidesert comparable to the modern plant cover. However, the Upper Pleistocene lake deposits contain some more soudanian elements as the Holocene sediments in the pollen spectra. Climatically the lake formations are interpreted as depending on a stronger influence of the mediterranean cyclones or an interaction of them with monsoonal air masses.