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Rare brine pools found in the Gulf of Aqaba - unique archives of the past

Jul 20, 2022
A small brine pond about ten square meters in size at a water depth of 1,800 meters. It is located about 50 meters west of the main basin. Microbial communities have settled at the edge of the basin. Photo: OceanX
A small brine pond about ten square meters in size at a water depth of 1,800 meters. It is located about 50 meters west of the main basin. Microbial communities have settled at the edge of the basin. Photo: OceanX

Salt has always served as a good preservating agent - and this also applies to brine pools in the deep sea. A team led by Prof. Sam Purkis of the University of Miami (USA) has discovered such brine pools in the Gulf of Aqaba, which borders the Red Sea to the north, using a remotely operated diving robot. At a water depth of about 1,800 meters, they form an oasis for microbes and unique sedimentary archives.

Brine pools are rare; until now, and occurrences are only known occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. During an expedition in 2020, first brine pools have been found in the Gulf of Aqaba. In their publication, the researchers present a total of four pools of different sizes and ages. The oxygen-free conditions and the absence of any bottom life result in sedimentary deposits that exhibit, in addition to an excellent preservation, an undisturbed recorded tectonic and climatic events.

Within study, Jürgen Titschack of MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences used computed tomographic images (CT scan) to evaluate the sedimentary sequence in three dimensions. The sequence shows complex turbidite sequences containing terrestrial sediments, which were likely triggered by flash floods, local earthquakes or tsunamis. Thus, this circa 1200-year sequence provides detailed insight into the tectonic and climatic evolution of the region.

 

Contact:

Dr. Jürgen Titschack
Marine Sedimentology
MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
Phone: 0421 218 65623
E-mail: [Bitte aktivieren Sie Javascript]

Original publication:

Sam J. Purkis et al: Discovery of the deep-sea NEOM Brine Pools in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. Communication Earth & Environment. DOI: 10.1038/s43247-022-00482-x