Mid-Holocene stable isotope record of corals from the northern Red Sea

Y. A. Moustafa*, J. Pätzold, Y. Loya, G. Wefer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a study based on X-ray chronologies and the stable isotopic composition of fossil Porites spp. corals from the northern Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) covering the mid-Holocene period from 5750 to 4450 14C years BP (before present). The stable oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions of five specimens reveal regular annual periodicities. Compared with modern Porites spp. from the same environment, the average seasonal δ18O amplitude of the fossil corals is higher (by ca. 0.35-0.60‰), whereas annual growth rates are lower (by ca. 3.5 to 2 mm/year). This suggests stronger seasonality of sea surface temperatures and increased variability of the oxygen isotopic composition of the sea water due to changes in the precipitation and evaporation regime during the mid-Holocene. Most likely, summer monsoon rains reached the northern end of the Red Sea at that time. Average annual coral growth rates are diminished probably due to an increased input and resuspension of terrestrial debris to the shallow marine environment during more humid conditions. Our results corroborate published reports of paleodata and model simulations suggesting a northward migration of the African monsoon giving rise to increased seasonalities during the mid-Holocene over northeastern Africa and Arabia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-751
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • African monsoon
  • Corals
  • Holocene
  • Northern Red Sea
  • Stable isotopes


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