Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Holocene Palaeolakes – Awafi and Wahalah

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Palaeolake sequences offer considerable potential for generating high-quality palaeoenvironmental data in arid environmental settings. Such deposits are often characterised by high rates of sedimentation, potentially resulting in continuous records that are highly resolved in time and respond rapidly to external forcing. Significantly, palaeolake basins are widely distributed throughout south-east Arabia.

For his doctoral research Gareth conducted a high-resolution, multi-proxy examination of two palaeolake sediment sequences in the Emirate of Ra’s al-Khaimah, UAE: Awafi and Wahalah. The data revealed that climate has varied greatly between ~8500 – 4200 cal. yr BP, with periods during which conditions were more pluvial than the present punctuated by phases of intense aridity. Furthermore, the work suggested that abrupt increases in aridity recorded in the palaeolake sediments between ~8000 – 7800 cal. yr BP, from ~5900 cal. yr BP and at ~4200 cal. yr BP, reflect the response of the regional landscape to global climatic variations.

Future work will include the examination of the particle size distribution of the sedimentary records at both sites. In addition, it is hoped to obtain further Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dates from the Wahalah record and thereby strengthen the chronological framework at the site.