Subsidence pattern in the central Adriatic and its influence on sediment architecture during the last 400 kyr

Vittorio Maselli, F. Trincardi, A. Cattaneo, D. Ridente, A. Asioli

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31 Citations (Scopus)


The western Adriatic margin (eastern Mediterranean), part of the Apennine foreland, is characterized by a differentiated tectonic setting, showing high subsidence rates (up to 1 mm/yr) in the northern area and tectonic uplift (on the order of 0.3-0.5 mm/yr) in the southern part corresponding with the so-called Apulia swell. The central Adriatic marks the transition between these two areas. To calculate subsidence values, the stratigraphy of the central Adriatic has been investigated through the borehole PRAD1.2 (European project Profiles across Mediterranean Sedimentary Systems), the first continuous Quaternary marine record in the Adriatic basin (71.2 m long) reaching the top of Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS 11). Subsidence calculations were performed first by applying the backstripping procedure to PRAD1.2, in order to investigate the contribution of sediment load and tectonic driving forces to subsidence. Despite the large error bars, mostly caused by the uncertainties in paleowater depth reconstructions, the values obtained demonstrate that tectonics is the main driver for subsidence in this area. In order to better estimate the subsidence rates, an independent approach is introduced, based on the correlation of the present-day burial depth of past shorelines deposited during the main glacial lowstands, from MIS 2 to MIS 10. The average subsidence rate of about 0.3 mm/yr appears greater than the average sediment supply rate (0.15 mm/yr), and this fact explains the overall backstepping of the 100 kyr regressive depositional sequences on the margin. The results obtained help to improve the understanding of the regional tectonics and can be used for quantitative reconstruction of Quaternary sea level changes in the Adriatic region. In general, the paper shows that even a short (71 m) borehole across a relatively short time span (340 kyr) can be useful for subsidence calculations, provided that a high-resolution definition of its stratigraphy is available and a correlation can be drawn with the geomorphologic proxies such as paleoshoreline deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12106
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2010


  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Sea level change
  • Quaternary


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