Sea-level change along the Italian coast for the past 10,000 yr

Kurt Lambeck, Fabrizio Antonioli, Anthony Purcell, Sergio Silenzi

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Relative sea-level change along the Italian coast and adjacent seas - the combined result of eustasy, glacio-hydro-isostasy and vertical tectonic motion - exhibits considerable spatial and temporal variability throughout the Holocene. The tectonic contribution can be evaluated from the elevation of MIS 5.5 shoreline-markers that are well developed in many localities and the eustatic and isostatic contributions can be predicted from models of ice sheets and earth rheology. Discrepancies between observed Holocene sea levels and model predicted values provide the information for refining the model parameters, including the tectonic rates of vertical movement. Recent and new Holocene and MIS 5.5 information from 30 sites in Italy has been evaluated and compared with model results to calibrate the predictive model. The resulting parameters for the earth rheology and for the eustatic (ice-volume equivalent) sea-level function are consistent with results from regions outside of the Mediterranean and reflect global values. Using the calibrated model parameters the relative sea-level change due to eustasy and the concomitant isostasy is predicted across the central Mediterranean region. Holocene tectonic rates of vertical motion are also given for the Italian coastal zone. At most sites where the MIS 5.5 shoreline occurs above or below its 'tectonically stable' position, the inferred rates of vertical crustal displacements are consistent with the assumption that average rates for the past ∼125,000 years are comparable to the average Holocene rates, but at some locations in eastern Sicily and southern Calabria the Holocene rates exceed the longer term average rates. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1567 - 1598
Number of pages32
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number14-15
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology

Cite this

Lambeck, K., Antonioli, F., Purcell, A., & Silenzi, S. (2004). Sea-level change along the Italian coast for the past 10,000 yr. Quaternary Science Reviews, 23(14-15), 1567 - 1598.