Conference PaperPDF Available
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Quaternary sediment sources, sinks and transport pathways in the
Black Sea-Caspian Sea region
Chiara Költringer1, Thomas Stevens1, Martin Lindner2, Yunus Baykal1, and Redzhep Kurbanov3,4
1Department of Earth Science, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden (
2Department of Chemistry and Physics of Materials, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
3Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
4Institute of Geography, Laboratory of Evolutionary Geography, RAS, Moscow, Russia
The Black Sea-Caspian Sea region is a vast and geomorphologically variable area where sea level
changes, large rivers and their migration, and numerous interacting climate systems and aeolian
regimes lead to a highly dynamic and complex situation of sediment supply and reworking. The
area is blanketed by extensive loessic and sandy aeolian deposits, extending from northern Iran,
through the Caucasus piedmont, Caspian lowland, and into the Crimea and East European Plain,
as well as marine, fluvial and alluvial sediments. While loess deposits are especially extensive
adjacent to major rivers such as the Volga, Don and Dnieper, the provenance, transport and
nature of loess in this complex and highly dynamic environment remains poorly known.
Both, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea experienced several transgressive and regressive phases
during the Pleistocene, with temporary connections occurring over the Manych passage and
resulting in the formation of marine terraces over a wide area, which are dry at present. The sea
levels of the Caspian and Black seas and long-range north to south sediment transport are heavily
influenced by the great rivers draining the previously glaciated East European Plain, the Volga, Don
and Dnieper. In addition, the Black Sea and Caspian Sea are surrounded by mountain ranges, with
the Carpathians in the west, the North Anatolian Mountains south of the Black Sea, the Crimea-
Caucasus orogen and the Alborz mountains extending from northeast of the Black Sea to south of
the Caspian Sea, all of which may act as sediment source regions. Furthermore, more distal
orogens lying to the east, such as the Ural, Altai, Pamir and Kopet-Dag, and their palaeo-drainage
systems, also represent potential sediment source areas for the Caspian Sea basin. The Karakum
desert lying to the east of the south Caspian combines the potential of being a sediment sink for
material from these mountains, as well as a secondary source for the Caspian Sea and the large
loess area in northern Iran.
Here we apply U-Pb dating of detrital zircons to constrain the major sediment generating regions
in this large area, transport pathways, and to further address the implications for sediment
generation and cycling. In addition to loess, we aim to constrain the sediment transport pathways
both for fluvial, marine and aeolian systems more generally, and to reconstruct the network of
sediment routing in the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region. Our results reveal great spatial variability in
zircon provenance and indicate the contribution of multiple source regions and transport
pathways for most analysed samples and sites. Rivers have the strongest control on sediment
erosion and distribution and are also in control of aeolian deposits, while not much sediment
mixing seems to occur within the sea basins.
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