The fluvial evolution of the Holocene Nile Delta

Benjamin Pennington, Fraser Sturt, Penelope Wilson, Joanne Rowland, Anthony Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The evolution of the Nile Delta, the largest delta system in the Mediterranean Sea, has both high palaeoenvironmental and archaeological significance. A dynamic model of the landscape evolution of this delta system is presented for the period c.8000{4500 cal BP. Analysis of sedimentary data and chronostratigraphic information contained within 1640 borehole records has allowed for a redefinition of the internal stratigraphy of the Holocene delta, and the construction of a four-dimensional landscape model for the delta's evolution through time. The mid-Holocene environmental evolution is characterised by a transition from an earlier set of spatially varied landscapes dominated by swampy marshland, to better-drained, more uniform floodplain environments. Archaeologically important Pleistocene outliers in the form of sandy hills protruding above the delta plain surface (known as \turtlebacks"), also became smaller as the delta plain continued to aggrade, while the shoreline and coastal zone prograded north. These changes were forced by a decrease in the rate of relative sea-level rise under high rates of sediment-supply. This dynamic environmental evolution needs to be integrated within any discussion of the contemporary developments in the social sphere, which culminated in the emergence of the Ancient Egyptian State c.5050 cal BP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-231
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date10 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Holocene
  • Palaeogeography
  • Middle East
  • sedimentology
  • Lakes
  • lagoons and swamps
  • Deltas
  • Nile
  • Geomorphology
  • fluvial


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