Jump to Main Content
Morphometry and elevation of the last interglacial tidal notches in tectonically stable coasts of the Mediterranean Sea
- F., Antonioli, Ferranti, L., Stocchi, P., Deiana, G., Lo Presti, V., Furlani, S., Marino, C., Orru, P., Scicchitano, G., Trainito, E., Anzidei, M., Bonamini, M., Sansò, P., Mastronuzzi, G.
- Earth-science reviews 2018 v.185 pp. 600-623
- coasts, fossils, models, morphometry, prediction, radiometry, tectonics, viscosity, Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean region
- We report detailed morphometric observations on several MIS 5.5 and a few older (MIS 11, 21, 25) fossil tidal notches shaped along carbonate coasts at 80 sites in the central Mediterranean Sea and at an additional six sites in the eastern and western Mediterranean. At each site, we performed precise measurements of the fossil tidal notch (FTN) width and depth, and of the elevation of its base relative to the base of the present tidal notch (PTN). The age of the fossil notches is obtained by correlation with biologic material associated with the notches at or very close to the site. This material was previously dated either through radiometric analysis or by its fossiliferous content.The width (i.e. the difference in elevation between base and top) of the notches ranges from 1.20 to 0.38 m, with a mean of 0.74 m. Although the FTN is always a few centimetres wider than the PTN, probably because of the lack of the biological reef coupled with a small erosional enlargement in the FTN, the broadly comparable width suggests that tide amplitude has not changed since MIS 5.5 times. This result can be extended to the MIS 11 features because of a comparable notch width, but not to the MIS 21 and 25 epochs. Although observational control of these older notches is limited, we regard this result as suggesting that changes in tide amplitude broadly occurred at the Early-Middle Pleistocene transition.The investigated MIS 5.5 notches are located in tectonically stable coasts, compared to other sectors of the central Mediterranean Sea where they are uplifted or subsided to ~100 m and over. In these stable areas, the elevation of the base of the MIS 5.5 notch ranges from 2.09 to 12.48 m, with a mean of 5.7 m. Such variability, although limited, indicates that small land movements, deriving from slow crustal processes, may have occurred in stable areas. We defined a number of sectors characterized by different geologic histories, where a careful evaluation of local vertical land motion allowed the selection of the best representative elevation of the MIS 5.5 peak highstand for each sector. This elevation has been compared against glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) predictions drawn from a suite of ice-sheet models (ICE-G5, ICE-G6 and ANICE-SELEN) that are used in combination with the same solid Earth model and mantle viscosity parameters. Results indicate that the GIA signal is not the main cause of the observed highstand variability and that other mechanisms are needed. The GIA simulations show that, even within the Mediterranean Basin, the maximum highstand is reached at different times according to the geographical location. Our work shows that, besides GIA, even in areas considered tectonically stable, additional vertical tectonic movements may occur with a magnitude that is significantly larger than the GIA.