Sardinia coastal uplift and volcanism

Patrizia Mariani, Carla Braitenberg, Fabrizio Antonioli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

12 Citations (Scopus)


The low variability of MIS 5.5 sea level (M.I.S = Marine Isotopic Stage) with respect to the present day sea level, allows the Sardinian coast to be used as an eustatic reference for the entire Mediterranean region. This level is generally at 7 ± 2 m above current sea level along the Sardinian coast. One sector along the Orosei Gulf (eastern Sardinia) includes a characteristic and well conserved tidal notch that changes in elevation from 7.6 to 11.5 m over only 30 km, tilting upwards towards the north. Generally, height deviations of such a tidal notch would be due to tectonic or volcanic activity. The Sardinia coast however, is considered to have too little tectonic activity, and also too small post-glacial rebound in order to explain the anomaly. The remaining possibility is Neogene-Quaternary continental and/or submarine volcanic activity, which we investigate as a possible cause for the observed anomalies. In this paper, our goal is to explain the anomaly by modelling recent volcanic loading or updoming related to magmatic intrusion emplacement. We review the literature on the recent volcanic deposits, both on-shore and off-shore, and investigate to what extent volcanic loads can influence the coastline from a theoretical standpoint, using the isostatic flexure model and a range of loads. We find that the observed notch height anomaly cannot be explained by volcanic loading, but must be produced by an upward welling due to the emplacement of volcanic material, as produced for instance by a laccolith or batholith. The upward movement could be related to the submarine volcano only recently detected, or to a source located on the eastern Sardinia coast near Orosei. © Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1369 - 1402
Number of pages34
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number8-9
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

Cite this

Mariani, P., Braitenberg, C., & Antonioli, F. (2009). Sardinia coastal uplift and volcanism. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 166(8-9), 1369 - 1402.