You are here

Hydrologic Variation in Iran

Work in Iran is done in collaboration with Drs. Morteza Djamali and Elodie Brisset at the Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale (IMBE) of National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). The research is focused on generating multi-proxy records of climate change along a north-south transect of sites that allows for testing hypotheses related to the position of westerly storm tracks and the effects of the Indian Summer monsoon as well as understanding the effects of climate change on early civilizations of the Near East.

Lakes Maharlou and Hirom

Lakes Maharlou and Hirom are the two most southern sites in the transect. Maharlou has the additional importance of its location adjacent to the city of Shiraz, potentially one of the oldest cities in the region and of historical relevance to the Persian empire. Work here is on-going and includes archaeological research at nearby Persepolis.

Relevant papers

  • Brisset, E, Djamali, M, Bard, E, Borschneck, D, Gandouin, E, Garcia, M, Stevens, L, Kazuyo, T. (2018). Late Holocene fluvial activity and lake desiccation history in southern Zagros (SW Iran) reconstructed using high-resolution sedimentological and geochemical records from Lake Maharlou. Journal of Paleolimnology. doi: 10.1007/s10933-018-0048-6.

Masters Theses

  • In progress - Brandy Coats: Hydroclimate in the central Zagros Mountains during the inception of agriculture
  • 2015 - Rosemarie Wrigley: Drought frequencies during the early Holocene from the isotopic composition of ostracodes in Lake Hirom, Iran

Undergraduate Projects

  • 2019 - Ramiro (RJ) Mejia: hydroclimate of the early Holocene, Lake Maharlou, Iran
  • 2018 - Kristen Way: evidence of smelting at Lake Maharlou, Iran with evidence of smelting
  • 2018 - Angel Bautista: examination of drought with stable isotopes, Lake Maharlou, Iran
  • 2018 - Alejandra Lopez: mineralogical variations over the last 2 kyr in Maharlou, Iran
  • 2014 - Matt Kaczmarek: sedimentological characteristics of drought in Lake Hirom, Iran

Lakes Mirabad and Zeribar

The stable-isotope records from Lakes Zeribar and Mirabad were the first reported from the Quaternary of Iran. These lakes form the central section of a North-South transect of sites to explore positional changes in westerly storm tracks and potential incursions of the Indian Summer monsoon. Millennial-scale shifts in both overall moisture availability and timing of atmospheric precipitation have been well documented, providing a much needed assessment of climate change in this water-critical region. A major objective of all lakes in the transect is to explore any cyclical climate change and potential relationships with the early civilizations of Mesopotamia.

Relevant Papers

  • Stevens, L.R., Wright, H.E., and Ito, E. (2007). Changes in effective moisture in Iran over the last 50 ka. In Lake Zeribar-A Celebration of 50 years of Research (Wasylikowa, K. and Wright, H.E., Jr., eds), University of Poland Press.
  • Wasylikowa, K., van Zeist, W., Wright, H.E., Jr., Stevens, L.R., Witkowski, A., Walanus, A., Hutorowicz, A., Alexandrowicz, S.W. (2007). The Lake Zeribar palaeoecology: an attempt at synthesis. In Lake Zeribar-A Celebration of 50 years of Research (Wasylikowa, K. and Wright, H.E., Jr., eds), University of Poland Press.
  • Stevens, L.R., Ito, E., Schwalb, A., and Wright, H.E., Jr. (2006). Timing of atmospheric precipitation in the Zagros Mountains inferred from a multi-proxy record from Lake Mirabad, Iran. Quaternary Research 66, 494-500. doi: 10.1016/j.yqres.2006.06.008
  • Stevens, L.R., Wright, H.E., and Ito, E. (2001). Proposed changes in the seasonality of climate during the last 12 ky at Lake Zeribar, Iran. The Holocene 11, 745-753. doi: 10.1191/09596830195762
  • Griffiths, H., Schwalb, A., and Stevens, L.R. (2001). Environmental change in NW Iran: the Holocene ostracod fauna of Lake Mirabad. The Holocene 11, 755-762. doi: 10.1191/09596830195771

Masters Thesis

  • 2010 - Nolen Lambert: A Multiproxy High Resolution Paleoclimate Study of Lake Mirabad, Iran

Lake Urmia, Iran

Lake Urmia today is a shallow, hyper-saline system that resembles the Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA. Sedimentary analyses suggest that the lake has undergone periods of freshening that would be related to wetter climates in the past. Picture at left is of salt mounds along the shore. Photo courtesy of M. Djamali.

Lake Urmia is the northernmost lake in the transect. However, a detailed Holocene record could be reconstructed from the 100 meters of sediment recovered during a recent engineering analysis. Rather this project reconstructed centennial-scale hydrologic variability over a longer time period—i.e., the last 160 kyrs. The isotope results are the first on the fecal pellets of the brine shrimp, Artemia urmia and have been linked to a vegetation study being conducted at IMEP-CNRS, France by Dr. Djamali.

Relevant Papers

  • Stevens, LR, Djamali, M, de Beaulieu, J-L, and Andrieu-Ponel, V. (2012). Hydroclimatic variations during the last two glacial/interglacial cycles recorded in Lake Urmia, Iran. Journal of Paleolimnology 47, 646-660.
  • Djamali, M., Ponel, P., Delille, T., Thiéry, A., Asem, A., Andrieu-Ponel, V., de Beaulieu, J.L., Lahijani, H., Shah-Hosseini, M., Amini, A. and Stevens, L. (2010). A 200,000-year record of the brine shrimp Artemia (Crustacea: Anostraca) remains in Lake Urmia, NW Iran. International Journal of Aquatic Science 1(1), 1-18.
  • Djamali, M, de Beaulieu, J-L, Shah-hosseini, M, Andrieu-Ponel, V, Amini, A, Akhani, H, Leroy, S, Stevens, LR, Alizadeh, H, Brewer, S. (2008). A late Pleistocene long pollen record from the Urmia Lake, NW Iran. Quaternary Research 69, 413-420.
  • Djamali, M., Kürschner, H., Akhani, H., de Beaulieu, J.L., Amini, A., Andrieu-Ponel, V., Ponel, P. and Stevens, L. (2008). Palaeoecological significance of the spores of the liverwort Riella (Riellaceae) in a late Pleistocene long pollen record from the hypersaline Lake Urmia, NW Iran. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 152, 66-73.

Undergraduate Projects

  • 2008 - Meghan Shimizu: Stable isotopic composition of fecal pellets from Lake Urmia, Iran

Artemia (brine shrimp) (at left) contribute fecal pellets (at right) to the sediment. The pellets are almost pure aragonite and can be used for stable isotope analysis. Photos are courtesy of M. Djamali and M. Shah-Hosseini.