Late Quaternary sedimentation within a submarine channel-levee system offshore Cap Timiris, Mauritania

C. Zühlsdorff*, K. Wien, J. B.W. Stuut, R. Henrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aeolian and fluvial sediment transport to the Atlantic Ocean offshore Mauritania were reconstructed based on grain-size distributions of the carbonate-free silt fraction of three marine sediment records of Cap Timiris Canyon to monitor the climatic evolution of present-day arid north-western Africa. During the late Pleistocene, predominantly coarse-grained particles, which are interpreted as windborne dust, characterise glacial dry climate conditions with a low sea level and extended sand seas that reach onto the exposed continental shelf off Mauritania. Subsequent particle fining and the abrupt decrease in terrigenous supply are attributed to humid climate conditions and dune stabilisation on the adjacent African continent with the onset of the Holocene humid period. Indications for an ancient drainage system, which was discharging fluvial mud offshore via Cap Timiris Canyon, are provided by the finest end member for early to mid Holocene times. However, in comparison to the Senegal and Niger River further south, the river system connecting Cap Timiris Canyon with the Mauritanian hinterland was starved during the late Holocene and is non-discharging under present-day arid climate conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalMarine Geology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2007


  • aeolian supply
  • continental margin
  • end members
  • Holocene
  • late Pleistocene
  • marine sediments
  • north-west Africa
  • sedimentary processes


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