High-resolution stratigraphy and multiple luminescence dating techniques to reveal the paleoseismic history of the central Dead Sea fault (Yammouneh fault, Lebanon)

Maryline Le Béon, Ya Chu Tseng, Yann Klinger, Ata Elias, Alexander Kunz, Alexandre Sursock, Mathieu Daëron, Paul Tapponnier, Rachid Jomaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Continuous sedimentation and detailed stratigraphy are key parameters for a complete paleo-earthquake record. Here, we present a new paleoseismological study across the main strike-slip fault branch of the Dead Sea fault in Lebanon. We aim to expand the current knowledge on local paleoseismicity and seismic behavior of strike-slip plate boundary faults and to explore the limitations of paleoseismology and dating methods. The trench, dug in the Jbab el-Homr basin, reveals a succession of remarkable, very thin (0.1 to 5 cm) palustrine and lacustrine layers, ruptured by at least 17 earthquakes. Absolute ages of 4 samples are obtained from three luminescence-dating techniques targeting fine-grain minerals. Blue-green stimulated luminescence (BGSL) on quartz and post-infrared infrared-stimulated luminescence at 225 °C on polymineral aliquots led to consistent ages, while ages from infrared-stimulated luminescence at 50 °C on polymineral aliquots appeared underestimated. The quartz BGSL ages are 26.9 ± 2.3 ka at 0.50 m depth and 30.8 ± 2.9 ka at 3.65 m depth. During this time period of 3.9 ka ([0; 9.1 ka]), 14 surface-rupturing events occurred with a mean return time of 280 years ([0; 650 years]) and probable clustering. This return time is much shorter than the 1127 ± 135 years return time previously determined at the Yammouneh site, located 30 km south. Although fault segmentation and temporal variations in the earthquake cycle remain possible causes for such different records, we argue that the high-resolution stratigraphy in Jbab is the main factor, enabling us to record small deformations related to smaller-magnitude events that may have been missed in the rougher strata of Yammouneh. Indeed, focusing only on larger events of Jbab, we obtain a mean return time of 720 years ([0; 1670 years]) that is compatible with the Yammouneh record.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2018


  • Dead Sea (Levant) fault
  • Luminescence dating OSL
  • Paleoseismology
  • pIRIR


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