Holocene sea level change in Malta

Stefano Furlani, Fabrizio Antonioli, Sara Biolchi, Timothy Gambin, Ritienne Gauci, Valeria Lo Presti, Marco Anzidei, Stefano Devoto, Mariarita Palombo, Attilio Sulli

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A multidisciplinary approach has been applied to study sea level changes along the coast of Malta using data collected from underwater archaeological remains. The elevation of archaeological markers have been compared with predicted sea level curves providing new bodies of evidence that outline the vertical tectonic behaviour of this region, allowing estimation of the relative sea level changes that occurred in this area of the Mediterranean since the Bronze Age. During the Roman Age, sea level was at -1.36 ± 0.1 m, while in the Midde Age it was at -0.56 ± 0.2 m, in agreement with previous estimations for the Mediterranean region. Data indicate that Malta was tectonically stable during the studied period. The occurrence of the present-day notch along the coasts of the island indicates recent vertical stability of the area. The lack of MIS 5.5 deposits all over the island could simply be due to high rates of erosion, as its coasts are highly exposed to storm waves, rather than tectonic movements. However, even very slight vertical movements could completely remove field evidence. The relative stability of the Maltese Islands allowed a first attempt to provide a palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of its coasts at different time windows since the Last Glacial Maximum. The results have been used to infer time and mode of mammal dispersal to the island during the Pleistocene. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146 - 157
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

Furlani, S., Antonioli, F., Biolchi, S., Gambin, T., Gauci, R., Lo Presti, V., ... Sulli, A. (2013). Holocene sea level change in Malta. Quaternary International, 288, 146 - 157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2012.02.038