Characterization of the clayey sediments in the environment of exposed mudflats on the western Dead Sea shore

Shlomo Shoval

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The retreat of the Dead Sea and the lowering of the base level in recent decades led to the exposure of the littoral clay sediments on the shore, the occurrence of exposed mudflats and the development of ground subsidence along strips ("subsidence strips") and clustered sinkholes. Based on field observations and laboratory analyses the present study characterizes the clayey sediments in the environment of the exposed mudflats on the western Dead Sea shore. The clayey sediments of the exposed mudflats ("mudflat sediments") consist of fine-grained laminated calcareous-clays. The mineral composition of the bulk mudflat sediments is clay and carbonate minerals (calcite, aragonite and dolomite) with some quartz and feldspar, and frequently gypsum and halite. The clay mineral composition of these samples is smectitic illite-smectite and kaolinite with some discrete illite and palygorskite. The smectitic illite-smectite is randomly interstratified (1.7-nm illite-smectite type R=0). Although, the detrital smectitic illite-smectite in the mudflat sediments is situated in the saline environment of the Dead Sea shore, no significant illitization is observed in the depositional detrital clay. Subsidence strips with clustered sinkholes were formed in the exposed mudflats as part of the adjustment of the Dead Sea periphery to the lowering of the base level as a result of the retreat. The field observations in the studied area reveal that the subsiding of mudflat sediments in the formation of the subsidence strips usually involves mud-sagging of wet clayey sediments in the subsurface and sediment-collapse of dry clayey sediments near the surface.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClay Minerals
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Clay analysis
  • Clustered sinkhole
  • Littoral sediment
  • Mud-sagging
  • Mudflat sediment
  • Saline environment
  • Sediment-collapse
  • Subsidence strip.


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