Incised valleys across continental margins represent the response of fluvial systems to changes in their equilibrium dynamics, mainly driven by base level fall forced by glacial-eustatic cycles. The Manfredonia Incised Valley formed during the last glacial sea level lowstand, when most of the southern Adriatic shelf was sub-aerially exposed but the outer shelf remained under water. The pronounced upstream deepening of the valley is ascribed to river incision of the MIS5e highstand coastal prism and related sub-aqueous clinoform under the influence of MIS5-4 sea level fluctuations, while the downstream shallowing and narrowing mainly reflects the impact of increased rates of sea level fall at the MIS3-2 transition on a flatter mid-outer shelf. Until 15 ka BP, the valley fed an asymmetric delta confined to the mid-outer shelf, testifying that continental and deep marine systems remained disconnected during the lowstand. Sea level rise reached the inner shelf during the Early Holocene, drowning the valley and leading to the formation of a sheltered embayment confined toward the land: at this time part of the incision remained underfilled with a marked bathymetric expression. This mini-basin was rapidly filled by sandy bayhead deltas, prograding from both the northern and southern sides of the valley. In this environment, protected by marine reworking and where sediment dispersal was less effective, the accommodation space was reduced and autogenic processes forced the formation of multiple and coalescing delta lobes. Bayhead delta progradations occurred in few centuries, between 8 and 7.2 ka cal BP, confirming the recent hypothesis that in this area the valley was filled during the formation of sapropel S1. This proximal valley fill, representing the very shallow-water equivalent of the cm-thick sapropel layers accumulated offshore in the deeper southern Adriatic basin, is of key importance in following the signature of the sapropel in a fades-tract ideally from the shoreline to the abyss. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Bibliographical noteWe are very grateful to all the people involved on Cruise INVAS 12 and in particular to Andrea Gallerani for his support on grain-size analysis. We thank the two anonymous Reviewers for insightful comments that improved the manuscript. This work has been partially funded by the Flagship Project RITMARE – The Italian Research for the Sea – coordinated by the Italian National Research Council and funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research within the National Research Program 2011-2013. This is ISMAR Bologna contribution n. 1827.
- Mediterranean Sea
- Incised valley