EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Nile floods during the last African Humid Period: a seasonal record from the deep-sea fan

Cecile Blanchet, Arne Ramisch, Rik Tjallingii, and Achim Brauer
Cecile Blanchet et al.
  • Geo-Forschungszentrum Potsdam, 4.3 Climate evolution and landscape dynamics, Potsdam, Germany (

Seasonal floods are life-supporting events in the Nile Valley and have been crucial to the development of complex societies. Present populations depend on their occurrence but the alteration of fluvial dynamics under climate change remains elusive. In order to better understand how fluvial dynamics respond to climatic changes, we explore past flood dynamics of the Nile River using a unique finely laminated sequence from the Nile deep-sea fan.

Today, floods occur during the summer, when monsoonal rainfall hits the Ethiopian highlands and feeds the Blue Nile. Core P362/2-33 covers the past 9.5 ka BP and is ideally located to record changes in fluvial dynamics during periods of stronger monsoon activity such as the Saharan Humid Periods. The absence of oxygen in the Mediterranean bottom waters during the last Saharan Humid Period (during sapropel S1 deposition) allowed to preserve the laminated structure between 9.5 and 7.5 ka BP.

We focus here on examining the nature of the laminations in order to 1) understand the deposition mechanism and 2) obtain a reconstruction of past fluvial dynamics at seasonal resolution.

Microfacies analysis and elemental micro-XRF scanning indicate that couplets of alternating dark- and light-coloured layers represent seasonal deposits of Nile discharge and marine hemipelagic sedimentation, respectively. Preliminary lamination counts suggest that couplets were deposited at an annual rate for most of the record. Increases in layer thickness is observed around 9.5 and 9.1 ka BP, followed by a gradual decrease until 8 ka. Careful examination of lamination structure and time-series analysis of layer counts will permit to further explore sub-annual changes in flood dynamics during the Saharan Humid Period. Finally, due to its high temporal resolution, our record has the potential to link reconstructions of Nile discharge to other regional archives of hydrological changes (e.g., speleothems, lakes) and thereby identify overarching forcing mechanisms.

How to cite: Blanchet, C., Ramisch, A., Tjallingii, R., and Brauer, A.: Nile floods during the last African Humid Period: a seasonal record from the deep-sea fan, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3391,, 2021.

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