Large-scale single incised valley from a small catchment basin on the western Adriatic margin (central Mediterranean Sea)

Vittorio Maselli*, Fabio Trincardi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The Manfredonia Incised Valley (MIV) is a huge erosional feature buried below the Apulian shelf, on the western side of the Adriatic margin. The incision extends more than 60 km eastward, from the Tavoliere Plain to the outer shelf, not reaching the shelf edge. High-resolution chirp sonar profiles allow reconstruction of the morphology of the incision and its correlation at regional scale. The MIV records a single episode of incision, induced by the last glacial-interglacial sea level fall that forced the rivers draining the Tavoliere Plain to advance basinward, reaching their maximum extent at the peak of the Last Glacial Maximum. The valley was filled during a relatively short interval of about 10,000 yr during the Late Pleistocene-Holocene sea level rise and almost leveled-off at the time of maximum marine ingression, possibly recording the short-term climatic fluctuations that occurred. The accommodation space generated by the lowstand incision was exploited during the following interval of sea level rise by very high rates of sediment supply that allowed the preservation of up to 45 m of valley fill. High-resolution chirp sonar profiles highlight stratal geometries that are consistent with a typical transgessive valley fill of an estuary environment, including bay-head deltas, central basin and distal barrier-island deposits, organized in a backstepping configuration. The highest complexity of the valley fill is reached in the shallowest and most proximal area, where a kilometric prograding wedge formed during a period dominated by riverine input possibly connected to high precipitation rates. Based on the depth of the valley margins during this interval, the fill was likely isochronous with the formation of sapropel S1 in the Mediterranean region and may have recorded significant fluctuations within the hydrological cycle. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-262
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Early online date12 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to Alessandro Amorosi, Albert Kettner and an anonymous Reviewer for improving the quality of the manuscript. The authors are also very grateful to Alessandro Ceregato and Marco Taviani for their support in the analysis of preliminary sediment cores and to Giovanni Bortoluzzi and Filippo D'Oriano for their work on seismic processing. This is ISMAR-Bologna contribution n.1767


  • Adriatic Sea
  • Late Quaternary
  • Incised valley
  • Sea Level
  • Sapropel


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