Eolian and fluvial sedimentation in the southwestern Sinai Mountains, Egypt: a record of flash floods during the late Pleistocene

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Wadis emerging from the southwestern Sinai Mountains (Egypt) westwards to the Gulf of Suez are filled by >40 m thick late Pleistocene sediments, which have been subsequently incised to bedrock after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Sedimentation and erosion resulted from changes in the basin's hydrological conditions caused by climate variations. Sediment characteristics indicate distinct processes ranging from high to low energy flow regimes. Airborne material is important as a sediment source. The fills are associated with alluvial fans at wadi mouths at the mountain fronts. Each alluvial fan is associated and physically correlated with the respective sediment fill in its contributing wadi. The alluvial fans have steep gradients and are only a few kilometers long or wide. The alluvial fans converge as they emerge from the adjacent valleys. According to optically stimulated luminescence dating, the initial sediment has an age of ∼45 ka and the sedimentation ends ∼19 ka, i.e., happened mainly during marine isotope stage (MIS) 3 and early MIS 2 formation and initial incision sometime during LGM. As the delivery of sediments in such a hyper-arid environment is by extreme floods, this study indicates an interval of intense fluvial activity, probably related to increased frequency of extreme floods in Southern Sinai. This potentially indicates a paleoclimatic change in this hyper-arid environment.

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