Discovery of the deep-sea NEOM Brine Pools in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

Sam J. Purkis, Hannah Shernisky, Peter K. Swart, Arash Sharifi, Amanda Oehlert, Fabio Marchese, Francesca Benzoni, Giovanni Chimienti, Gaëlle Duchâtellier, James Klaus, Gregor P. Eberli, Larry Peterson, Andrew Craig, Mattie Rodrigue, Jürgen Titschack, Graham Kolodziej, Ameer Abdulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Deep-sea brine pools represent hypersaline environments famed for their extremophile microbes. With anoxia entirely excluding bioturbating megafauna, brine pools are also conducive to the pristine preservation of sedimentary sequences. Here we use bathymetric and geophysical observations to locate a complex of brine pools in the Gulf of Aqaba consisting of one 10,000 m2 pool and three minor pools of less than 10 m2. We further conduct sediment coring and direct sampling of the brine to confirm the sedimentary and environmental characteristics of these pools. We find that the main pool preserves a stratigraphy which spans at least 1200 years and contains a combination of turbidites, likely resulting from flashfloods and local seismicity, and tsunamigenic terrestrial sediment. The NEOM Brine Pools, as we name them, extend the known geographical range of Red Sea brine pools, and represent a unique preservational environment for the sedimentary signals of regional climatic and tectonic events.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 27 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-07-05
Acknowledgements: We owe a debt of gratitude to our Saudi Arabian partners, NEOM, and to Paul Marshall for facilitating the Deep Blue Expedition and issuing sampling permits. We are similarly indebted to OceanX and the crew of OceanXplorer for their operational and logistical support for the duration of this expedition. In particular, we would like to acknowledge Olaf Dieckoff, Ewan Bason, Carmen Greto, and Colleen Peters for data acquisition, sample collection, and support of scientific operations on board OceanXplorer. We would also like to thank OceanX Media, for documenting and communicating this work with the public. Gratitude is extended to three anonymous referees, Derek Sawyer, and to Neil Mitchell for their insightful reviews. We thank Beverly Goodman Tchernov for her advice on an earlier draft of this manuscript. G.C. was supported by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (PON 2014–2020, Grant AIM 1807508-1, Linea 1). This study was funded by NEOM Company under the 2020 NEOM-OceanX Red Sea Expedition.


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