Sedimentary evolution and lake level fluctuations of Urmia Lake (north-west Iran) over the past 50 000 years; insights from Artemia faecal pellet records

Sarı S., Mohammadı A., Schwamborn G. J., Haghipour N., Yu B. Y., Eriş K. K., ...More

Sedimentology, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/sed.13159
  • Journal Name: Sedimentology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, CAB Abstracts, Compendex, Geobase, INSPEC, Pollution Abstracts
  • Keywords: Artemia faecal pellet, deposition history, lake level fluctuation, radiocarbon age, stable oxygen and carbon isotopes, Urmia Lake
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


A 25 m long sediment core from hypersaline Urmia Lake (north-west Iran) was studied for the Late Quaternary depositional history and palaeoclimate variations using the abundance and compositional characteristics of Artemia faecal pellets. Sediment analysis is supported by scanning electron microscopy – energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, organic and inorganic carbon content measurements, and stable isotopes (δ13C and δ18O) from faecal pellet carbonates. The imprecise chronology of the core back to 50 kyr bp is supported by ten radiocarbon ages from faecal pellets and bulk sediments. The palaeoenvironmental record is subdivided into four periods: (i) During much of Marine Isotope Stage 3, a period of lake level lowering is characterized by a decreasing amount of faecal pellets, and an increasing amount of coated grains, sulphate minerals and reworked shell fragments. (ii) During late Marine Isotope Stage 3 and early Marine Isotope Stage 2 a lake level lowstand and a lake floor exposure is interpreted based on the relatively low abundance of pellets, which are multicoloured and appear together with volcanic lithics and rounded sulphate minerals. (iii) During late Marine Isotope Stage 2 the record is devoid of pellets but dominated by large sulphate crystals suggesting a prolonged low lake level. (iv) During Marine Isotope Stage 1 a relative lake level highstand is rapidly established with sediments that are highly abundant in fresh pellets. The modern lake level lowstand is represented by a salt crust. The δ13C and δ18O records measured from faecal pellet carbonates suggest a link with the precipitation versus evaporation balance in the lake over time. From bottom to top the linear trend towards more negative delta values illustrates the increasing amount of precipitation arriving at the lake from the Late Pleistocene to the Holocene. Two prominent isotope minima during the Late Pleistocene and one prominent minimum in the early Holocene mark relative high lake levels, which can also be linked to Lake Van in Turkey.