GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 27-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


GREENBAUM, Noam, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, Rabin Building, 199 Aba Kaoushy Av., Mt. Carmel, Haifa, 3498838, Israel, ZITUNI, Rami, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, 8007 Rabin Building, 199 Aba Kaoushy Av., Mt. Carmel, Haifa, 3498838, Israel, PORAT, Naomi, Geological Survey of Israel, 32 Laibovitz, Jerusalem, 9692100, Israel and BENITO, Gerardo, Department of Geology, National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN), CSIC,, Serrano 115 bis, Madrid, 28006, Spain

Dryland rivers, are characterized by flashy ephemeral flow, and scarce hydrological records, which is crucial for flood hazard assessment. The Judean Desert, eastern Israel, is an extension of the Sinai and Negev desert fringe which, due to its low topography and the rain-shadow effect, extends northward into the Dead Sea Valley. Average annual rainfall declines from the water divide in the west to about 50 mm yr-1 along the Dead Sea in the east. The Judea Desert is characterized by short, steep ephemeral bedrock streams, which drain into the Dead Sea Valley. The hydrological data for these streams is partial to none.

The present study applied palaeoflood hydrology method, which analyzes sedimentological evidence of past large floods in two southern Judean Desert streams - 250 and 55 km2, in size which yielded maximum palaeo discharges of 900 m3s-1 and 1250 m3s-1, respectively (1.3 and 2.3 times larger than the maximum measured floods, respectively), for records of 500 and 5000 years, respectively. Combining these data with measured and historical data produced a palaeo-hydrological data-base of several hundred to thousands years long.

These data updated the regional envelope curves for the maximum peak discharges; the combined systematic and palaeohydrological records for the last 500-700 years, updated flood frequency analysis (FFA). The 100-year flood in the larger basin decreased from 1750 m3s-1, for the systematic record only, to 760 m3s-1 (43%) for the combined records, and from 1260 m3s-1 to 980 m3s-1, in the other basin (77%).

Similar trends were observed in another four basins in the Judea desert ranging from 75-450 km2 in area. In all streams, the FFA for the systematic+historic data only, overestimated the frequency of the large floods due to their short and discontinuous records.

The palaeoflood data extends the record to several hundred years, reducing the peak discharge values for different return periods and significantly enhancing FFA reliability